Monday, November 16, 2015

Homeward Bound

We are on the last leg. We are hoping to sleep in our own bed tonight. Our last two days of travel have been long and fatiguing. We were slow leaving each morning. We had stayed with family and it was hard to say goodbye.

We added a 19th state as we crossed a section of West Virginia with its mountain cabins and leafless trees.

We crossed the Ohio River at dusk and wound through the countryside on narrow roads in the dark. We were spooked by the many dead deer we had seen by the roadway, so Peter honked repeatedly while I followd the play by play on line of a nailbiter Patriots game and gave him regular updates. 
We arrived safely at Karen and Maxk's in time to see the Pats win in the last seconds of the game.
Karen had a wonderful lamb roast to reward us and we talked until late
We lingered over breakfast this morning, and are paying the price now.

Dark was total by 6pm when we stopped for dinner 
We have reached Connecticut  now and no longer need the GPS. We know the way.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Weaving, walking, winding down

Yesterday was a perfect day to enjoy fall in Berea. Grace and I went looking for textile and other forms of art and found near museum pieces, frequently for sale in the stores at the center of the town. We visited the weaving studio, then found the blankets, placemats and scarves in the gift shops.

The campus of Berea College was picture perfect, and the golden ginkgo trees glowed in the afternoon light.  We passed the plaque commemorating Daniel Boone who passed this way in 1775. 

After dinner with Grace's grandchildren, we unwound by playing with the cat and reading aloud. 

Beloved France

Beloved France, 
Paris, the City of Light
We weep for you.
May you be delivered from your darkness.
May healing bless your wounded hearts and bodies.
May wisdom uphold your leaders.
May God arm you with courage, strength and unity.
May peace flow throu your streets.
We pray for you. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kentucky Home

We are in Kentucky with my sister and her family. Early in the our marriage this was our favorite trip. Many times we pointed our red VW bug in this direction and spent many happy Thanksgiving holidays here, eating turkey and hiking in the mountains.

Yesterday was a beautiful blue day, nearly warm, and like early fall. The only hint of coming cold was the bare trees and fallen leaves.  We inspected my sister's new house and yard, where a redbud tree, deceived by the warmth sent out a few buds.

After lunch we took a drive out to the Tater Knob Pottery studio, which gave us a taste of the local crafts.  We watched Patty Culbreth at the wheel and enjoyed her warm hospitality.

The objects were beautiful and we came away with gifts for ourselves as well as for others. Patty's dogs welcomed us at the door, but the cat napped, undisturbed in an elegant bowl.

On the way home we stopped at the local reservoir and admired the bluegrass fields, although we haven't seen any thoroughbreds yet.  

Dinner was a pre Thanksgiving feast, with bourbon chocolates instead of pie. After dinner we watched the movie "Inside Out" and then reminisced around the kitchen table. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Circling round

We made it back to St Louis to stay with our friends Jim and Nan.  We had stayed with them on our way west and theirs was the first location that we revisited on our return. We were revisiting in other ways as well. 

In 1956 our respective families moved from Trenton, NJ and Elkins Park, just north of Philadelphia to Conway Road in St. Louis County. Our fathers were founding faculty of Covenant Seminary, and each built family houses that are separated by only one house. It was there that we spent 12 years until we got married in 1968 and actually moved in together. The houses still stand on the edges of the Covenant Seminary campus, though much of the landscape is destroyed. The apple orchard is no more. The sledding  hill is the site of a large chapel, and the backyard I had to mow with a machine I could not start, has been swallowed up (Peter would saunter over after a decent interval and start the mower with one pull).  But the houses still stand in the same locations. 

On this return trip we went out to dinner with Jim and Nan and Will and Gail, friends of many years. We ate at Cyrano's, a restaurant which brought back memories of our early dates. In those years Cyrano's was a dark, romantic hideaway off Clayton Road, with a basement location which probably skated close to safety regulations. Romantic evenings together sometimes included dessert at Cyrano's. Their specialty was Cherries Jubilee, which is still on the menu. We indulged. The waiter brought over the magic cart and flamb├ęd the cherries before out eyes.  We felt the intervening 50 years melt away. What fun!

The next morning we drove past the Arch and Busch Stadium, crossed the Mississippi in the direction of Kentucky.  


The farms seemed small compared to the western lands. The biology of trees and land covers the geology of rock  which is so exposed in the West. The leaves have fallen since we passed two weeks ago. But it is still beautiful. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Three more states

 As of last night we had passed through 17 states on this trip. We will add one more when we arrive in Kentucky tomorrow. When we awoke in Gallup NM, it was cold. The altitude was over 6000 feet, and the air was dry and clear.  he temperature had dipped to the low 20s in spite of the bright sunshine. As we started we saw patches of snow on the side of the road. 

Our overnight stay in Gallup exorcised a few demons. When we had come this way in 1989, with our kids, we had arrived in Gallup too late for a camping spot.  We tried a couple hotels which were full. Finally we went to the south side of the city where we stayed in the worst motel I've ever seen. The clerk took our cash with a sour look, from a barred cage. The room itself was maybe 10 feet from the rail tracks and the windows were barred. The sheets were thin and the carpet stained. The lock on the door seemed flimsy and we slept fitfully. It was such a bad night that we didn't even try to find a motel the next night, but drove all night to stay with friends in St. Louis.   We slept well in Gallup this time. 

The morning landscape was beautiful with rocky mesas, red in the bright sun.

We stopped for fuel at a barren exit. Next to us a Japanese couple were fueling an enormous, gleaming, red RV. It occurred to me that many apartments in Japan or South Korea are smaller than this vehicle. He said he was getting 6 mph, which Peter thought was impressive given the size of the RV.  

It was noon as we approached Albuquerque, but the nearest rest stop was at least two hours away.

We decided to use the Panera app I had installed to find a lunch spot. It worked fine until we landed at a huge mall. We got out and asked someone, who directed us to a very large cafe where we had a hot lunch for a change. 

Back on the road, we drove through the eastern plains of NM and into the Texas panhandle.

Here we also found hundreds, maybe thousands of wind turbines.

In Kansas we had seen a couple oversized flatbed trucks each carrying just one blade of a turbine. It made us wonder what it was lIke to deliver all 
the parts for these machines. As the sun went down each turbine blinked a red light which gave the landscape the look of Christmas decorations. 

We only had to drive about an hour in the dark this time, and we arrived at our hotel early enough to take a swim and soak in the hot tub. 

Heading Home across the Southwest

After a week in LA it was time to head home. Out first thought was to return by way of he mountains and their spectacular scenery. Then we checked the weather. Snow was predicted at Vail Pass on Tuesday and the temperatures were low. We decided that we didn't want to risk ice and snow on the road so we chose the route we had taken in 1989 when we traveled with our kids. It was the old Route 66 as in the famous song "Get your Kicks on Route 66," although the place names unrolled in reverse order. We were heading back to St Louis. 

We left LA on Sunday morning after Amanda, John and the kids had left for church.
It was a bright blue day as we headed to the Mojave Desert. In November the temperatures are in the 60s by day instead of the hundreds. It is dry and barren. Joshua Trees are the indicator species, and we learned that both Death Valley and Las Vegas are in the Mojave. 

We were amazed by the impossibly long trains that passed us, some westward, others eastbound.  They were pulled by orange locomotives, at least three and sometimes four to a train. The cars were often double decker containers that numbered in the hundreds. There were still trucks on the road, but not as many as in Ohio and Indiana. 

As we passed San Bernadino and Barstow, the sun beat down on the rocky hills. We found a desert rest stop, a modern oasis in the desert, complete with picnic tables and bathrooms. But there was no question that water was precious. 

When we reached Kingman, the road began to climb. We reached 4000 feet of altitude, and the desert receded behind us. The shadows lengthened and the sun set long before we reached our destination and we had many miles to drive in the dark. One disadvantage of heading east is that we are losing hours instead of gaining them. And the total daylight has shrunk to under 11 hours per day. 

When we reached Gallup we were too tired to find a restaurant. Instead we made sandwiches from our lunch food and warmed them in the microwave. Sleep was sweet.