Rocky Mountain High

I got my a** handed to me yesterday when I left North Platte, NE.  I was so busy checking the weather in Wyoming that I neglected to see what the rest of Nebraska had in store for me.  One word… wind. And I’m not talking about a light breeze.  No, I’m talking about 30-40mph wind with gusts that topped 50mph+.  It was beyond scary and at 9 1/2 feet tall, I thought the MoHo would get blown off the road.  After two hours and 120 miles, I pulled off the road in Sidney and proceeded to cry in the Walmart parking lot.  Then I saw on weather.com that there was a high wind advisory in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming and that it was going to last all day. Driving for the day was done and after a few phone calls, I was able to check into the Best Western in Sidney where I hunkered down for the rest of the day. Note: Nicest people ever at the Best Western. I gave them a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor

Since I had lots of time to look at maps and weather.com yesterday, I determined that my best course of action wasn’t necessarily to continue to Wyoming as planned but to head south on I-76 and go across Colorado on I-70 instead. When I woke up this morning, I checked the weather for both routes and since the Wyoming route still had 20-30mph winds forecasted where the Colorado route had almost no wind, I decided for the latter.  Wyoming will just have to wait.

The drive today through the Rockies was beautiful, albeit a bit harrowing when coming off the first big mountain pass.  I think I was at an elevation of around 10,000 feet when my stomach started to hurt. This could have been for one of three reasons:

  1. The beginning of altitude sickness, which I am prone to getting
  2. Nervous knots for having to drive down a 7% grade for 7 miles in 10 degree weather with potentially icy roads
  3. The sausages I ate for breakfast

The mountains are covered in snow and I saw several resorts were open, including Vail. My priority was to keep both hands on the wheel so pictures just weren’t feasible.  Sorry.  But I did get the Welcome to Colorado sign because I am a pro:

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I spent approximately 7 hours in Colorado before crossing the border to Utah. An hour later and I was checking into a Holiday Inn Express in Green River.  Fun fact:  when I graduated high school, I did a 3-week Outward Bound trip in Utah.  The first week was spent river rafting the Green River.  And here I am again after all these years.  Crazy.

So yes, I was on the road for 8 1/2 hours today and I am done done done. I’d say the coolest thing about the drive was seeing the Rockies from both sides.  Truly impressive.  The saddest part was seeing the turn-off for Arches National Park and having to ignore it (for now). Now the big debate for tomorrow is whether I take Hwy 50 across UT and NV or do I head north to I-15 and then reconnect with I-80.  Will check the weather tomorrow and will decide then.  Of course, if any of you reading this tonight have an opinion, please weigh in!  One more mountain range and I’m back in NorCal…

iPod playlist for the day: Metallica all morning (since yesterday was a bust), followed by Journey, Joey Ramone and Lou Reed this afternoon.

Cross country route thus far:  NY, NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, CO, UT

State count: 29, 30

 

 

 

 

In Medias Res

Let me start this post by extolling the virtues of cruise control.  I don’t think I ever used this feature over the last 5 months – it simply wasn’t practical when driving the backroads and one-lane highways with variable speed limits and lots of twisty, turn-y roads.  But now that I am on I-80, I have become the cruise control master.  Set it, forget it and it’s easier (though not easy) on the body.  My body is hurting – all I can think about is getting a long massage when I get back to California.

The last few days of driving have been fairly uneventful, which is exactly what I want when driving hours on end.  I made it to Joliet on Saturday and stayed in an RV park next to a casino.  All the water was turned off so I only had access to electric, but it was only $20 for the night so all good.

Yesterday I had a “light” day of driving – only 5 hours from Joliet to my friend Dana’s house in Adel, IA (right outside of Des Moines). I arrived just in time to catch the Raiders game and to enjoy a delicious homemade meal of pot roast, green bean casserole and pumpkin bars.  I then proceeded to make a mess of Dana’s kitchen by making cookies for my upcoming book club/cookie exchange.  Juno slept with Abby and I slept like the dead.

This morning, I decided to take a little detour up to Jefferson to visit Robby at RVP 1875. He and I met over the summer when I dropped by to visit his workshop to ogle his incredible hand-made furniture.  We’ve stayed in touch and it was great seeing him again – was just sorry I couldn’t hang out longer.  But the road beckoned…

After 6+ hours of driving, I have just landed in North Platte, NE at a cozy La Quinta with free breakfast and a king-size bed.  Yep, I’m pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country.  I wish I could regale you with tales of all the incredible things I’ve seen on the road over the last few days but there hasn’t been anything.  This is exactly why I’ve avoided the interstate as much as possible when I was heading east. It’s the backroads and one-lane highways that really make this country special.  But for speed and efficiency, you can’t beat I-80.  The only exciting thing that happened today on the road was that I hit 20,000 on the odometer.

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Since I have nothing of interest to share from a sightseeing perspective, I’ll just end this post with a quick recap to what I’ve been listening to on the iPod:  Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, lots of Pink Floyd, Queen, The National, Sigur Ros, Grinderman, The Black Keys, Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime (in honor of Robby) and pretty much every album I own from The Sword.  I think for my drive into Wyoming tomorrow, I’m gonna bust out the Metallica.  Say a little prayer that the weather remains good the next couple of days for my journey through the Rockies…

p.s. For those of you who weren’t forced to take four years of Latin like I was, in medias res means “in the middle of things”.

Westward Ho!

I’ve been to NYC so many times I’ve lost count but this was the first trip where I spent the majority of my time in Brooklyn.  Candia and Stuart were incredibly gracious hosts to both Juno and me and I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality.  Candia and I walked around DUMBO on Tuesday afternoon. To be honest, I had no clue what she was talking about.  For those of you also not familiar, DUMBO is Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  So there you go.  It’s full of ridiculously expensive homes, cute shops and home to the first Jacques Torres chocolate shop.  I got a wicked hot chocolate (good but not as epic as I’d thought it would be) and enjoyed what might be the best view of Manhattan in the picture below (notice the Empire State Building!)

A few notes on the other pictures – 1) the picture of Candia and Juno is blurry because I was standing in the middle of the street and a car honked at me just as I was trying to take the picture and I jumped. 2) The writing on the wall of the theater says “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

Wednesday turned out to be a perfect day for a long stroll so Juno and I headed off to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. The walk was so nice that we ended up walking back to Brooklyn.  The “No Locks, Yes Lox” sign was priceless.

Here are a couple of other pix I took – one of a fun manhole cover in Brooklyn and another of the new One World Trade Center (having fun with filters)

Thanksgiving was spent with Candia’s cousin and other assorted family members and I felt truly thankful to be able to spend my favorite holiday with such wonderful people.

This morning, I picked up the MoHo from Mercedes and have officially started my journey back to the West Coast.  From NY to NJ to PA to OH in just over six hours!  I’m holed up in Youngstown, OH tonight.  Tomorrow I’ll make my way to Joliet, IL and then on to Des Moines on Sunday.  There isn’t a whole heck of a lot to see on I-80 so I’m spending a lot of time finding good music on my iPod that I can sing along to – today’s selections included The Who’s Quadrophenia, Adele’s 21, Audioslave’s Out of Exile and Black Keys’s Turn Blue.

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Hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

The Two Towers

I’m keeping this post brief because a) I’m tired and b) because I don’t have that much to report.

Spending the weekend in Media, PA with my friends Karen and Linda was just wonderful.  We did end up going for a 4 1/2 mile hike/walk in a state park near their house on Saturday morning.  From there, it was off to lunch and a couple of excellent Bloody Mary’s!  A stop at Bevan’s Own Make Candy topped off the afternoon before returning back to their home for a homemade dinner and a few episodes of Last Tango in Halifax.   Pretty much a perfect day in my book!

The temperature dropped big time on Sunday and we woke up to temperatures in the 40’s with crazy strong (cold) winds.  After bundling up, the three of us (with Juno, natch) drove over to Swarthmore College.  The campus is just gorgeous and we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around the grounds – the bells tolled in the tower while we were there which was a nice touch.  FYI re the selfie with the purple tree in the background…  apparently the tree is dead and as opposed to digging it up, the students painted it purple.  Pretty cool.  From there, it was a another stroll around town with a stop at a liquor store to pick up peppermint schnapps – I was in charge of making the snugglers!  We spent the rest of the day watching the Eagles/Seahawks game, making ugly sweater cookies (I tried to make mine more Jewish with a menorah and a dreidel) and drinking hot chocolate.  Yep – another perfect day!

Leaving my friends on Monday morning was sad and I am hopeful I will get to see them again soon.  It’s funny how even though we hadn’t seen each other for 18 months (and that was when we met), it was like no time had passed.  I guess when you climb Mt Kili with someone, you’re bonded for life!

I wasn’t expected at my friend’s place in Brooklyn til later in the day so I took the extra time to meander over to Princeton, NJ for a walk around the campus and another around the town.  Beautiful stone and brick buildings, nice town with cute shops – a great way to spend an afternoon.  Sadly, the bells didn’t toll while I was there…

Side note:  I had been told a few months ago by someone I had met that gas/diesel is super cheap in New Jersey.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten this fun fact and had topped off the tank while still in PA, paying $2.49/gallon for diesel. Can I tell you how annoyed I was when I saw that diesel goes for $1.97/gallon in New Jersey?!?!?!  Grrrrrr….

I’m in Brooklyn now at my friends Candia and Stuart’s lovely apartment. I took the MoHo in for servicing this morning to Mercedes in Brooklyn and will be picking it up tomorrow.  I decided to do the 20,000 service a bit early.  Why?  Well… I have some news.  Winter is coming and I’ve decided to return to NorCal after Thanksgiving and spend the winter back on the West Coast.  Several reasons for this decision 1) It’s getting dark early which means I need to be parked by 4:30pm at the latest each day since driving the MoHo around in the dark isn’t something I like to do. 2) When it’s cold/rainy/snowy, it’s not fun doing activities.  3) This is the big one – nearly everything I want to do is closed for the season.  Why carry on when I can’t do/see the things that I want?

Anyway, I’m going to hot-foot it across I-80 and am planning to be back in the Bay Area by 12/2.  I’ve got book club on 12/3 and tickets to the Raiders/Bills game on 12/4.  Then I’ll head down to Carmel, get a part-time job and just hang out for a few months.  My plan is to resume the trip in Mar or Apr – taking the southern route across this time. While I have loved being on the road, I admit that I’m looking forward to taking a break. Questions? Comments?

Happy Thanksgiving and for those of you back in NorCal, look forward to seeing you soon!

State count: 28

p.s. Don’t you just love my never-ending LOTR references?

 

That’s what friends (and family) are for

I always love being in the DC area and being able to hunker down for a full five days at Tom’s place was awesome. Tom actually left Tuesday morning to head back to San Francisco for two weeks so I had the place to myself the last three days – however, he was kind enough to leave me the following: a fridge full of food, the keys to his truck and a loaded revolver in the bedside table.  Yep – that’s what friends are for…  I did partake of some of the Oreos in the cupboard and the celery in the fridge but I didn’t have any need for the truck keys or the gun.  Maybe next time!

After battling ridiculous traffic driving from Arlington into DC, I picked up my mom and off we went to Annapolis for the day.  The first goal was to get a picture of the Welcome to Maryland sign. Then it was off to check out this lighthouse I had read about at the Maritime Museum.  Good news – I got a picture of the sign.  Bad news – the museum was closed the lighthouse was something like 5 miles offshore and not even visible.  All I saw was a model of the lighthouse.  Sad face.

Things improved though as we headed to the capital (aka Maryland’s state house). The building is so beautiful that I’m including a couple of different angles.  Also some historical info for those of you who are interested…

After lunch and a stroll around downtown, we moseyed over to the Naval Academy.  The campus is quite striking.  A woman giving a tour of the campus remarked that Juno looked like the new Navy goat!  We wrapped up our visit just as the rain started to fall and headed back to Arlington.

Yesterday my mother and I had the opportunity through Alec, a very distant cousin, to get a private tour of the Capitol!  Alec works for Senator Markey of Massachusetts and even before we set out, I learned something new.  The senator has bowls of Necco wafers and Ocean Spray Craisins in the waiting area.  Both are made in MA and (here’s where I got excited), Necco stands for New England Confectionary COmpany.  Boom!

Okay, so down to the basement where we took the world’s cutest tram from the Dirksen Senate Office Building to the Capitol Building.  We could have walked five minutes but where’s the fun in that?  Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed in the Senate and House chambers so I thought I’d include a picture showing the rules & regulations posted on the backs of the passes.  Note: the statue of Reagan is roped off because it includes pieces of the Berlin Wall and people kept touching it.

There wasn’t a ton going on in either chamber when we arrived (we had just missed a vote in the House) but we did get to see a new bill being introduced in the House – American Food for American Schools by a congressman from California.  In the Senate chamber, I saw John McCain and Mitch McConnell walking around but that was pretty much it.  There seemed to be a lot of schmoozing going on and not much else.

I finally departed from the DC area yesterday, en route to the city of brotherly love.  My first stop when I arrived in Philadelphia?  No, not the liberty bell (that was my second stop) – cheesesteak!!  I pinged a friend that grew up here and he recommended Geno’s in South Philly. I opted for Provolone over American and Whiz, onions and I added my own peppers. And while the sandwich looks gigantic, I still managed to eat the whole thing. Soooooo good

From there, I went downtown where I walked by Independence Hall en route to the Liberty Bell.  Can I say that the bell looks a bit smaller than I thought it would?  Still really cool though…

From there, it was time to head out to Media for the weekend where I’m staying with my friends Karen and Linda, who I met last summer when we all climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. I think the plan is for us to go for a hike later this morning – it’s supposed to be in the 70s today.  Woot!

Final note, I did drive through Delaware for about 15 minutes so I’m including the picture. Will spend more time there at a later point.  Also including a picture I took by Independence Hall – keeping hope alive for Bernie!

State count: 27

I just go where I’m told

When I left off last time, I was in Columbus and in a bit of a funk.  But I rebounded Thursday morning and resolved to enjoy the day as much as possible.  I spent some time in the Short High neighborhood of Columbus which has some cool street art.  There’s also a nice park where I took Juno for several walks and was just mesmerized by the amazing colors of the leaves on the ground

I then popped downtown to check out the capital building.  This was the first non-dome I’ve seen.  It’s a cube topped by a cylinder.  But the best part was the random road sign I saw set up across the street from the capital – not sure if was a commentary on the election or someone was just having a laugh.  Regardless, it was worth a picture

From Columbus, I made my way across state lines and into West Virginia.  I will be honest that I really had no clue about what to do in WV but figured best to start in Charleston.  So I managed to see two state capitals in one day!

While I was in Charleston, I went to Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream and had a delicious egg nog milkshake.  I ended up having a long chat with Ellen and she suggested that I check out Fayetteville. Sounds like a plan!  So after spending the night at the Kanahwa State Forest, off I went to Fayetteville.  The town is charming but what it’s best known for is that it’s right next to the New River Bridge, which is the world’s largest single-arch steel span bridge.  There’s a great platform at the top of the bridge and also mid-way down – the view was stunning.  Even Juno enjoyed the view!

The town of Fayetteville was a bit quiet as I was there on Veteran’s Day; however, I ended up meeting two really nice gals at Twisted Gypsies – they suggested I check out Shepherdstown. Okay then!  So off I went…

One thing that’s important to know about WV is that the state is super hilly.  My dad told me that when he was in school, he learned that if you flattened the state of WV out, that it would actually be bigger than the state of Texas.  Yeah, that hilly.  So when I arrived in Morgantown (home of WVU), it was a real challenge to find a street to park on that was flat.  I almost ended up at the Walmart parking lot but fortunately I found a flat spot in front a school.  So flat that I didn’t even need my leveling blocks.  Score!

Shepherdstown was a great recommendation and I spent all afternoon enjoying the town.   The town is super dog friendly too – there are restaurants where dogs are allowed inside!!  Juno and I had a lovely lunch at Domestic…  I also purchased a painting from Badgerhound Gallery – Michael Davis is the artist and his still life paintings are glorious.    Side note:  Shepherdstown is only a couple of miles from Antietam, the site of a huge Civil War battle.  Apparently, the re-enactors from the Virginia Army were meeting that day at the Clarion to discuss plans for next season.  It is a big goal of mine to see a civil war re-enactment at some point next year.

I mentioned to Michael that I was going to stay in Charles Town that night and he told me to check out the court, since that is where John Brown was tried (and found guilty).  He also suggested doing the Maryland Heights hike when I went to Harpers Ferry.  Check and check!  I should mention at this point that Harpers Ferry was recommended to me by a woman I met when I was in Cleveland.  In short, with the exception of Charleston, every place I visited in West Virginia was based on the recommendations of the people I met along the way.  And they were all awesome reccos!

Yesterday was a busy day.  I started with a drive to the court house and then it was off to Harpers Ferry and a morning hike.  The Maryland Heights hike was awesome – just over 4 miles R/T to the scenic overlook and it was such a glorious day.  The picture below depicts 3 states – I’m standing in Maryland, the town of Harpers Ferry , WV is in front of me and across the river to the left is Virginia.  So cool!!  So yes, I’ve been in Maryland even though I don’t have the “Welcome to Maryland” sign (yet).  The shot of the train on the tracks was an added bonus as it was crossing just as I finished my hike.  Love this pic…

I departed West Virginia for Virginia early yesterday afternoon and actually had to backtrack to get the Virginia sign since I couldn’t capture it initially.  I actually pulled over to get fuel just up the road and while I was filling up, I ran back up the highway to take the picture.  I am committed!  Or maybe I should be committed for running down a busy highway…  hmmm.

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I am now in Arlington and staying with my friend Tom.  As it turns out, my mom is staying in Washington DC this week so the three of us had a lovely dinner last night in old town Alexandria.  That was followed up with Tom making a delicious breakfast this morning.  I’ll be spending the next few days in VA, DC and MD (need to get a picture!!)  With that said, it’s time to get on with my day!

State count: 24 (West Virginia), 25 (Maryland), 26 (Virginia)

 

 

 

Update from the Battleground

I had planned on doing a post yesterday morning; however, I was just too sad to do much of anything.  I will admit – I cried.  I thought about just ending my roadtrip, heading back to NorCal and figuring out a way to move back to Australia for the next four years.  But then I decided, f*&k him.  I’ve got plans to do a lot over the next couple of weeks, including visiting friends in DC, Philly and NYC…  I’m not going to let the results of Tuesday night’s election spoil my plans.

I’ve tried to keep politics out of my blog since this was never meant to be a soapbox.  One thing I will say though is that while I am (still) incredibly sad about the election, deep down in my heart, I wasn’t surprised.  Over the last four months, I have literally driven the backroads of this country, passing through so many small towns that I’ve lost count.  The one thing that stuck out though – besides the ridiculous amount of corn we grow in the US – was the number of Trump signs that I saw.  Big signs, little signs, lots of homemade signs… I even saw an enormous digital billboard in PA that simply said “Trump” and was paid for by two ordinary citizens.  In fact, the only times I saw Hillary’s name, it almost always had a negative connotation.  “Hillary for Prison 2016” and so on.  I know this is what the talking heads on all the news channels have talked about and it’s true.  I saw it firsthand.  Let’s just hope Ginsburg and Breyer stick for another four years… that would make me feel a little better.

Okay, I’m going to keep the rest of this post somewhat brief since I’m still not feeling 100% myself.

 

I ended up spending three nights in Amish country and seriously could have stayed a week. Partly because there was so much to do and see and partly because it has such a relaxed vibe.  Must be all the horse-drawn buggies…

Also in the area is the Warther Museum, which houses the collection of Ernest “Mooney” Warther.  Completely self-taught, his collection carved of steam engines is incredible.  Once again, the pictures don’t do them justice as you really need to see them up close to appreciate the detail that went into each train.  It reminded me a bit of the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville, IA, as they are both incredible artists. The picture in the lower left corner is of Lincoln’s Funeral Train, considered to be his most famous work.  There’s also the scene of the golden spike being driven into the Continental Railroad in the lower right.

In addition to trains, Mooney also did a carving of the factory that he worked at for something like 30 years. Yes, all this carving was done at night, after work.  He even included figures of all the people he worked with, including his best friend (eating rhubarb pie and holding a piece of swiss cheese)

The other interesting thing at the Warther Museum was Frieda’s button collection (she was Mooney’s wife).  Over 73,000 buttons displayed in a separate cottage – she did all the patterns/designs.  One thing to mention regarding the Goodyear design…  apparently before Goodyear made tires, they made buttons!  All the buttons in that pattern are made of rubber!!

I also visited Behalt, which is a enormous circular mural depicting the history of the Anabaptist movement.  Pictures of the mural were not allowed but I learned a great deal on my tour with Lester Beachy.  I have a greater understanding of the Amish, Mennonites and their history.  But what I found most fascinating is that the man who painted the mural wasn’t Amish – he was Roman Catholic!  Lester was kind enough to take a picture with me out in front of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center.  I got a traditional Amish hat (which I love) and a copy of Lester’s book “Our Amish Values” as remembrances of my time there.

I was given a list of different foods that I needed to try while I was in Amish country – Amish noodles, trail bologna, fry pie, and peanut butter spread.  I basically spent Monday eating my way across Holmes County.  Good news is I managed to get it all.  You also have to appreciate people who buy butter in 2lb rolls!  The ham loaf was simply amusing.

Time to wrap this post.  I’ll end with a few other Amish discoveries – first was the golf cart at the Evergreen RV park where I stayed…  they had tricked it out to look like an Amish buggy.  Totally brilliant.  Real Amish buggy (complete with real horse) also depicted for comparison.  And finally a selection of Amish books I saw at a shop.  I am kicking myself for not buying one as I am now totally curious as to what they are about, given that the covers have sort of a “Harlequin-y” feel to them.

Will be spending a bit more time in Columbus this morning before heading to Charleston, WV later today.  Next post will have deets on my time here.  Take good care, everyone. Think positive.  And just keep swimming…

 

O? HI! O…

It’s always nice when you can be pleasantly surprised.  That’s how I’ve felt about my time in Cleveland and Ohio in general. I’ll be honest – I went to Cleveland to see LeBron play and that was it (the Rock ‘ Roll HOF was a bonus).  But as it turns out, there was so much to do and see that I spent another day and a half tooling around the city.

I was told to check out the Westside Market so that was my first stop on Friday morning.  It was one of the few times I wished I had a bigger fridge and kitchen in the MoHo.  The cheese options, bakeries, butchers, spice vendors – it was incredible.  I went to the juice bar, stopped for an apple fritter and then just wandered up and down the aisles. I didn’t come away empty handed as at least I could get fruit and veg for my daily green juice.

From the market, I headed over to Lake View Cemetery.  This is where President James Garfield was buried and that was my first stop.  The memorial is quite striking, both inside and out.  Is it wrong that I also took a picture of the Pokemon Go request? Hard to believe that this is actually a problem.

After visiting the memorial, Juno and I took an extended stroll around the grounds of the cemetery. With the fall colors and the unusual headstones, it made for a great morning of picture taking.  These are my favorites:

I literally could have spent hours walking around the cemetery but there were other things to do.  Next up – finding the “Cleveland” signs around town. There are three of them scattered around; however, I could only find two.  The idea is you get excellent views of the city from the various locations.  Mission accomplished.  And I had a nice “pay it forward” moment because I took a picture of someone at the first sign, someone took a picture of Juno and me at the second one.

I ended up in the Tremont neighborhood (another recommendation) late in the afternoon where I met Evelyn while walking Juno around Lincoln Park.  We had such a nice conversation that we ended up doing three laps of the park together before we said goodbye.  Tremont reminded me a bit of Temescal in Oakland – happy I got to spend some time there.

The next morning I was super pumped because I discovered that “The Christmas Story”   house was literally five minutes away from where I was parked.  I zipped over intending to get a ticket for the first tour at 10:15am and lo and behold, it was sold out!  The place was already teeming with people by 9:50am and by the time I took the tour at 10:45am, the place was a madhouse.

The tour was so much fun – I need to post a review on TripAdvisor.  Lee was our guide and there’s nothing better than doing a tour where you are encouraged to play with everything.  I took full advantage of the props and even got into the infamous bunny suit and slippers (complete with Ralphie’s glasses) and took a sad face picture on the stairs.  Lee inadvertently took a selfie before taking the picture of me so of course I’m including it (hi Lee!!)

It was time to depart Cleveland for Canton.  Next stop – the Pro Football Hall of Fame! Was slightly annoyed that they charge $10 for parking, especially since there is no one “manning” any of the lots (get it?!!?), but whatever.  I liked the mini field out in front and it was great seeing the busts of some of my fave Raiders from over the years.  Howie Long is still my favorite…

There wasn’t a ton of Raiders merchandise in the HOF shop but I did manage to find a new hat and you gotta love the Raiders snuggie…  And then I had to do the “touchdown” pose in front of the HOF sign (wearing my new hat)

That just about wraps up my adventures over the last couple of days. I drove to Dundee from Canton and am staying at a very nice RV campground in the heart of Amish country (they have rainfall showers in the bathroom!!) Turns out that the area I’m staying in has the largest Amish population in the country. Normally I’d be out taking in the sights but since it’s Sunday, everything is closed.   So I’m taking full advantage by doing laundry, deep-cleaning the inside of the MoHo and just lazing about.   There’s an indoor pool here so that’s where I’ll be heading shortly.  It’s a gorgeous day and life is good.

 

Seeing 23 in 23

I rarely write about the music I listen to when I’m driving.  But I feel I should mention that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds kept me company while I drove across central/western Pennsylvania. I had to listen to something that would get me to stop singing Billy Joel’s “Allentown” every time I’d see a highway sign.  And I bet you’re now singing it too…  The song is addictive and difficult to stop singing.  Nick Cave’s oeuvre saved me!

I left Hershey and made a quick stop in Harrisburg to see the capital.  I have to be honest – the capitals are all starting to look the same (Iowa is my fave). From there, it was a three hour drive to Pittsburgh and a stop at the Strip Markets.  Not much going on during the weekday but still nice to have a stroll after the long drive, especially since it was in the 80s and hot!  I found this one piece of street art that I liked outside a fish market:

After spending a rainy night in a nice neighborhood in Pittsburgh, I awoke to gray skies and cooler temps. I drove downtown and Juno and I enjoyed a nice walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge.  It looks like people are turning it into another Pont des Arts with all the locks.  The view was really quite stunning.  In the picture below, the Roberto Clemente Bridge is on the right – the Andy Warhol Bridge is on the left (and was closed for construction)

My final stop in Pittsburgh was Mt Washington to enjoy the view.  Totally worth it!

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It was time to make my way to Cleveland.  But before I proceed, I should mention that I will be returning to PA in a couple of weeks time…  Will be visiting the Philadelphia area when I return.  Woo!  As per usual, a picture of the welcome sign:

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While the World Series was going on, I actually debated heading to Cleveland a couple of days earlier to try and get a ticket to game 6.  But when I discovered that SRO tickets were going for $1,300, I decided to take a pass.

I got to Cleveland yesterday afternoon and my first stop was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The place is so cool and I seriously could have spent an entire day there watching footage, listening to music and seeing all the exhibits.  As it was, here are a few notables:  Elvis’s suit, the original lyrics to Metallica’s Whiplash, Rob Halford’s studded jacket, Frank Beard’s furry drum kit, “Pink” and The Wall.

But the real reason I wanted to get to Cleveland was to watch the Cavaliers play the Celtics. I got a ticket earlier this week and was thrilled to get a seat right behind the basket.  Even though I’m a Lakers fan, I’m a big fan of LeBron James.  The game was pretty much a blow-out but I still had a blast – besides the game, there are so many “exhibits” in the arena to see.  Note: That is NOT the real LeBron that I’m standing in front of…  and my hand is soooo much smaller than Kyrie Irving’s!

Bottom line, I got to see #23 play in my 23rd state.  How fortuitous is that?!?!

State count: 23!

Chocolate and Pretzels

As you know from my previous post, things got off to a rocky start here in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the last two days have turned out to be quite good.  After departing the Ramada yesterday morning, I made my way to Hershey, PA dubbed quite appropriately “The Sweetest Place on Earth!”

First stop was the Hershey Gardens.  I had a nice walk around the grounds and was very impressed by their carved pumpkin display…  The Peanuts gang, Sully from Monsters, Inc and someone did one hellava job trying to recreate Van Gogh’s Starry Night!

In addition to the pumpkins, there was a lovely rose garden, a children’s garden where I had the chance to vote for my favorite bonsai (so much better than voting for President) and a cute geyser fountain in the shape of Hershey’s Kisses!

Back indoors, I took advantage of the 80 degree temps in the butterfly house.  Can’t remember the names but I think this first one is an owl butterfly?  Outside and inside wing shots:

This one’s name escapes me but I love how the wings are blue when they are open:

And here are a few other random butterflies and one scary looking moth:

Okay.  Enough nature and on to more important things…  CHOCOLATE!  I made my way to Hershey’s Chocolate World and all was right and good.  I signed up for the “Create Your Own Candy Bar” and after donning a snazzy hair net and apron, I made my very own personalized chocolate bar (for $19.99).  Bob was my design partner (he made his bar for Sophie) and we both had a blast.  I mean, how could you not?  The big debate is when do I eat my chocolate bar?  Maybe it will be a New Year’s Eve treat.

I spent Halloween night at Hersheytown Campground.  The place is pretty empty and I watched two episodes of The Fall on Netflix (yay for season 3!) and dreamt of chocolate rivers.

Side note:  Here in central Pennsylvania, kids don’t treat or treat on Halloween – they do it the Thursday before Halloween.  Something to do with the Hershey theme park being open and if Halloween falls on a weekend, things get out of control with the kids.  So they do trick or treating on a Thursday to avoid any potential melee.  The only time they would actually get to do it on Halloween is if Oct 31st fell on a Thursday.  Whatever.  Totally lame if you ask me.

Today I drove to Lancaster County.  After a quick stop at the Visitors Center for a map and some advice, I made my way through Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse and Lititz.  Yes, these are real places.  The Amish were out in full force and while they don’t like having their picture taken (for which I was respectful), I did get a couple of shots of their horse drawn buggies.  It was fun watching the men riding bikes down the street and a caught sight of a bunch of kids (at recess??) playing baseball in a big yard.  I learned to distinguish Amish homes fairly quickly – they are the houses with the laundry hanging on a line… with LOTS of pairs of black pants.  I also went to an Amish Quilt store where I purchased the beautiful quilt pictured below.

The other thing Lancaster is known for is pretzels.  Even Lititz’s town sign incorporates a pretzel…  I got a hot pretzel in Intercourse – served by a teenaged Amish girl.  And then in Lilitz, I went to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel factory.  I was told you can “roll your own” but it turned out to be using Playdoh – so I took a pass and bought some Horse & Buggy Pretzels instead.

Back at Hersheytown Campground for one more night.  Tomorrow I head to Pittsburgh with a brief stop in Harrisburg along the way.  As far as chocolate and pretzels go, this is definitely the place to come if you like either of these things.  All I can say is I’ll be going for a long run tomorrow morning.  Toodles!