Home Base Bound: Day 1

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May 22, 2021, Bedford, PA- It is most often a good idea to end a visit to one’s hometown with a call on an old friend, or two. So, I spent my last hour in Saugus with a couple who live diagonally across the street from our old house, and down a couple of houses. It’s always good to catch up with local news and discuss what would be best for the town.

With the future of Saugus set, for now, I headed to nearby Wakefield’s Gingerbread House and got a coffee and breakfast, for the road. This was enjoyed at a Massachusetts Turnpike Service Area, giving me an extra boost, in the event that the Connecticut and New York portions of the trip became traffic-jammed and tedious. There were a few short backlogs in Connecticut, passing through Hartford, Waterbury and the junction of I-84 and Rte. 7, west of Danbury. This is de rigeur for the Constitution State (Connecticut’s ratification was what put the Great Document over the top, and put our country on the map, for real.). New York’s segment of I-84, sometimes a scene of long back-ups, was smooth as silk today.

The drive through Pennsylvania is frequently the longest stretch, east of the Mississippi. I zipped down I-81, and headed over to the Oley Valley, visiting with Beth and David Glick, their faithful collie, Manny, and their interesting house guests, Beth’s relatives from Illinois. The couple have four vibrant and talented children, the eldest of whom can pilot a small airplane. We discussed the relatively small number of women pilots, which, considering that Amelia Earhart was one of the pioneers of American aviation, seems a bit disconcerting. I think the young lady will do a lot to counter that, given her self-confidence, and her parents’ support.

As I have a late night Zoom call, I left the Glicks’ house, after a sumptuous dinner, and made my way to this community, in west central Pennsylvania. One of Bedford’s draws, for me, has been Bedford Diner. I found the omelets and freshly-ground sausage patties there to be worth making this my overnight stop, when heading towards New England. The old diner appears to have closed, but the crew is now at Route 220 Diner, so that will be my breakfast stop, tomorrow. It’s gratifying that people for whom I have developed warm feelings are able to bounce back from hard turns, and continue with what they do so well.

Goodnight, all, from Janey Lynn Motel, in Bedford.

Stirrings In The Heartland

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July 11-12, 2019, Richmond to Goshen, IN-

I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby.  One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.

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Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years.  There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground.  Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass.  Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering.  So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.

After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post,  my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies.  Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.

I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night.  Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.

This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade.  Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender.  I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen.  I could easily find my way back here.

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By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full.  On  a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought.  Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit.  In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of  witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.

There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie.  He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with  European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part.  I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part  of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.

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First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.

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This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.

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I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown.  This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece.  I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.

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A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown.  It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset.  A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit.  It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.

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I headed towards my place of rest:  Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat.  After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood.  Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana.  Anyone think differently?

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I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens.    There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood.  It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.

 

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LIV: Chased by the Rain, Homeward

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July 12, 2017, Saugus, MA- 

It was a lovely farewell to Tuesday, as I gazed out at the sunset, in a wooded preserve outside McKeesport, PA.

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I thought, briefly, of camping in those lovely woods, but there was a sign: “Residents only”.

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So, last night, after having waited out one intense storm, in the Pittsburgh area, I went eastward, and just shy of Chambersburg, I spent the night at Travel Inn, in the village of St. Thomas.

Today was relatively benign, across Pennsylvania, a bit of New York, over the Hudson-at Newburgh, and through Connecticut, which wasn’t bad, once I got past the Danbury Split (I-84 and U.S. 6).

Foodwise, I was too far east for breakfast at my  area favourite:  Bedford Diner. So, I checked out Andy’s, in Plains, up the road a piece from St. Thomas.  It was a decent substitute.  Around 2, despite my relative lack of activity, lunch called- so I gave a new spot, D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre, a try.  This is an excellent place, and a perfectly good excuse to use I-81 to/from New York, instead of cutting across New Jersey, as some have suggested.

Around 6:30, as I passed through East Hartford, the rain started again.  It made driving along the Massachusetts Turnpike rather interesting, but the real deal was MA 128/I-95.  I was surprised to find that my fellow Bay Staters seem to be greatly cowed by the rain, and we all inched along, past Boston, past Burlington and up to Wakefield, where I got off and used genetic memory to drive through a part of town, in which I hadn’t been in decades and make my way to the old hometown.  I will have three full days here, and one in Maine, as my New England “fix” for this year. Mom is ecstatic to see me, which is a good sign.

Tales of the 2016 Road: Blessed the Family That Stays Together

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July 6, 2016, Oley, PA-  I can’t drive through these parts, without a stop at Glick’s Greenhouse.  It was getting near Dave’s birthday, and Beth was having the family over for dinner, so I got to be a part of the festivities.  Besides, the accommodations are the best in the area.

The day started with a lovely breakfast at Bedford Diner, which has become an instant favourite of mine- first and foremost because of the exquisite breakfast sausage.  The regulars and the waitresses bantering is always a delightful aspect of sitting at the counter, anywhere, and it certainly was there.

My only sightseeing of the day was at Leesport Farmers Market- one of the biggest in the Reading area. I picked up a few things for Beth, and enjoyed the bustling atmosphere.  This event only happens on Wednesdays, but I am sure the pavilions see plenty of use for other purposes.

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Leesport Farmers Market

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Leesport Farmers Market

I found my way to Oley, by the backroad, past the regional middle school, patting myself on the back for having done so.  I did have to get reassurance from Beth, though, that I was on the right track, heading past the one-lane covered bridge, which I’ve shown in previous posts on the Greenhouse.  We had a fine dinner, with a new addition, the Glicks’ youngest nephew has joined the brood, since I was last here, in 2013.  After dinner conversation centered around the stuff of country life- yes, that includes guns, which I regard as tools for hunting and target shooting, as well as for personal safety in an unsafe environment.  We all agreed that guns are not a means of showing off one’s power.  Baling hay also held center stage.

No family photos, this time.  It was a bit on the hot and sticky side.  Some enjoyed the rubber swimming pool, as a result.  The sunset, though, was vintage PA.

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An Oley Valley sunset

 

As I said earlier, the room is fabulous, and I got a fine sleep.  This proved to be fortuitously necessary, for what followed, the next day.