Following is a diary of the road trip Joyce and I took in January 2016. We kept a daily log, and shared it with friend and family. Perhaps you'd like to read it! Coming up next.
On the Road Day 1 - We’re on our way January 3, 2016 We began our trek to Key West by driving north, to Lincoln New Hampshire, some 200 miles in the wrong direction. But let’s start at the beginning.
At 7:40 this morning we hustled down to the steamship wharf to wish our friends Pat and Jay safe travels on their trip south. We held signs that read: Are you there yet? and Which way? And who should appear but Jen, Pete and the girls heading off-Island for the day. As they boarded the boat, we trooped off with Herb (age 87) for breakfast at the American Legion. A good start for the new year, sweet sixteen.
We caught the ferry and headed north, stopping at Teak Imports to pick up the replacement piece for our wobbly dining table, ordered in September, delivered last week. Then onward. We reached our destination after four hours, checked in to our Comfort Inn, and unpacked, intending to enjoy a glass of wine. Neither of us remembered a corkscrew, though Joyce did have a multi-blade jack-knife.
Gentleman that I am, I called the front desk to request a corkscrew. No problem. When I appeared in person, said corkscrew could not be located. I felt a slight sense of panic. Not to worry, waiting for the elevator to return upstairs, I mentioned my dilemma to a fellow guest. “I’ve got an old one in my room,” he said, and soon our problems were solved. After a couple of glasses, we were ready to brave the thirty-degree temperatures for a delightful dinner at an old railroad station in Woodstock.
Now we’re curled up ready to watch the first episode of season six of Downton Abbey and the only channel that doesn’t work is PBS. That’s life. Tom & Joyce
On the Road Day 2 - Sharing Time January 4, 2016
Why in the world did we drive 200 miles in the wrong direction? Here’s your answer:
Last winter, Joyce signed us up for a time-share presentation in Lincoln, New Hampshire, of all places. So here we are, with the thermometer hovering around 10 degrees, light snow falling, and a host of presidential candidates promenading in the shadows of the presidential range of the white mountains.
Joyce and I had the opportunity (!) to sit for a three-and-a-half hour presentation of a soft sell for a time-share. While we went into this with our guard up, we were pleasantly surprised by the presentation and felt more positive about the time-share experience. You go on vacation. You build memories. We learned positive points about the luxury BlueGreen Vacation suites program, such as a member can access resort services anywhere, even if not staying in one. BlueGreen has 60 resorts nation-wide. Let us know if you’re interested.
We finished the presentation as the noon whistle blew, startling us back to reality. We followed a Mexican meal with a drive up the Kancamagus highway about a dozen miles, awestruck by the snow-capped peaks. Stunning. Back to our Comfort Inn for a short nap (yes, vacationing tires us out), then off to see Joy, the movie about the woman who invented the Miracle Mop. We recommend it; the presentation is impressive. Now here’s our corkscrew story: Shortly after the previews were over, Tom noticed what looked like a tail-less critter running down the aisle, skittering left and right, then disappearing at the front of the theatre. What was that all about? Joyce evidently had kicked her water bottle at the beginning of the show, and we found it as we left, nestled just off the aisle. Tommy’s tailless animal did no harm,but Joyce was thirsty! Such is life.
Temperature hit a high of 15 today, but registers 6 at the moment, as we are heading down to the hot tub, which is (fortunately) located inside. We did not sign up for the time share, nor even come close.
Tom and Joyce Day 3 - Oh Little Town January 5, 2016
We start with the corkscrew story of the day, which just happened. After dinner we went down to the pool and hot tub and found four young men in the pool. Tom wanted to go right to the hot tub, but Joyce chose the pool, so Tom followed suit. The four young men left the pool and hopped in the hot tub. We swam around for a few minutes, but were ready for the hot tub. Joyce wasted no time and invaded the space of the four young hunks. Tom swam around a few laps, but by the time he went to protect his woman from these roughs, she was deep in conversation with them. They turned out to be sophomores at the Naval Academy, and Joyce knew someone they knew. Felicia: fiancee to our friends' grandson. Small world syndrome. Tom joined the party, as a sixth wheel, not a protector.
Our hotel room is on the corner, with a bright light shining in the window, without benefit of black-out curtains, or so we thought. It was not until our second night that we did indeed find curtains to darken the room.
We began the day with a leisurely breakfast, then headed north through Franconia Notch, with gorgeous snow-capped peaks along the way. Our route led to Littleton, a bustling little community. We followed that with a drive through that little town of Bethlehem, which was basically a few shops and inns and churches along the roadway. We continued on as Mt. Washington rose in the distance, then headed back to Woodstock, for lunch at a healthy cafe and dessert-ed at our favorite Woodstock Station.
It’s been a few good days in God’s country. We’re headed home on Wednesday, tomorrow, spending the rest of the week recuperating from this vacation before we set forth for points South on Sunday. Oh, and we managed to watch Downtown Abbey on the computer last night; way to go PBS!
Tom and Joyce
Day 4 - Home Sweet January 6, 2016
We went to New Hampshire to check out this time share opportunity Joyce accidentally signed us up for, which turned out to be less distasteful than we initially thought.
As we planned our trip to the north country, I figured we could get in touch with a long lost friend of mine, a BU alum who introduced me to word processing in the early 1980s, who prepared my Springdale News retrospective, in 1988, and who edited, designed and printed my Dogtown book, in 1995. I had lost touch with Jim McIntosh, but knew he was as solid as the Old Man in the Mountain.
Turns out the Old Man fell apart a few years back, and they couldn’t put him back together. Turns out Jim abandoned his publishing business in Franconia and headed south, to the outskirts of Sarasota, where Joyce and I plan to head in a week or so. So it looks like we will re-connect, but in a warmer clime than the chills of New Hampshire. Trust the process Joyce often admonishes me.
We made it back from New Hampshire in fine fashion, 200 miles in four hours, including a brief detour to track down Woodstock New Hampshire, which is fewer than a few houses. We have to face un-decorating the house, un-packing our luggage and re-packing our car for our next venture.
We’ll take a brief hiatus from our vacation travels. Back again Sunday. Life goes on.
Tom & Joyce
Here is where we really and truly start our trip to Key West!
Day 1 - On the Road, fortunately January 10, 2016
Unfortunately we overslept this morning. Fortunately we had plenty of time before our ferry. Unfortunately we learned Shealyn was sick and her birthday party was postponed. Fortunately that meant we could leave earlier. Unfortunately, neither of us had begun to pack for our eighteen day road trip. Fortunately we both worked diligently to throw stuff in multiple suitcases. Unfortunately, weather was starting to brew. Fortunately we made it over to wish Shealyn a happy birthday. Unfortunately the warnings on high winds were increasing. Fortunately we hustled over to the Steamship Authority, got into stand-by at 10:20, and boarded the 10:45 ferry, bound for America.
Our first stop was Betsy’s Diner, a full five miles from the ferry slip. After a leisurely repast, we got up to leave … and ran into someone who knew Joyce, the parent of a former student. Soon we were on the road, as the rains pelted the car and pounded the pavement. All the way to New Haven we were driving through heavy rain, not much traffic, but lots of water. Even a flash of lightning and rumble of thunder. Then the rain subsided and we continued under overcast skies. No problem cruising through New York and down the New Jersey Turnpike.
Today we drove 300 miles in five hours, and exited at #8, halfway along the New Jersey Turnpike. Our Holiday Inn has an attached restaurant, so we have everything we need. With opposing television sets in the pub, Joyce watched the preview to the Golden Globes; Tom savored Green Bay topping Washington. Now we’re reclining in our suite, watching the Globes awaiting Downton Abbey.
Tom and Joyce - On the Road
Day 2 - In memory of David Bowie January 11, 2016
Unfortunately we overslept this morning. Again. Perhaps because we left early yesterday we thought we could catch up by leaving late today. In any case, we were on the road precisely at 10:09 am, and off the road eight hours later, shortly after 6 pm, with a cool 500 miles in our rearview mirror.
We’re in Fayetteville North Carolina, named for the Marquis de Lafayette who stood stalwartly at General Washington’s side, all those years ago. It turns out Fayetteville was settled by Scots, who pledged allegiance to King George III, which made them the enemy. And this plays a part in the Outlander, which Joyce continues to read, now in volume V, I believe.
North Carolina marks our ninth state. We purchased gas in Virginia for a mere $1.62/gallon, which proves the point about the falling price of oil. We’re getting about 30 mpg, and cruising along at an average speed of 61 mph. Not bad, if I say so myself, which I do.
Tomorrow we have a short day: less than 200 miles to visit one of our high school classmates who couldn’t make our reunion last fall, then another few miles to the outskirts of Hilton Head. Dinner tonight at Ruby Tuesday’s. Oh, and the thermometer is holding steady at 35 degrees.
Tom and Joyce
Day 3 - The State of our Union January 12, 2016
We were amusingly awakened by Shelby Sunshine, the Singing Breakfast Hostess, as we entered the breakfast room at Hampton Inn, Fayetteville. Shelby is an enthusiastic singer, a helpful waitress and a friendly soul. Nothing like a bright, cheerful singer to begin your day.
It took us three hours to reach Summerville, South Carolina, where we had a great visit with high school classmate Janet Beebe, whom we hadn’t seen in a half century. Her husband graciously tolerated our reminiscences. Then we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a local gourmet cafe. Though we planned to visit for two hours, we stayed four. It was great to catch up with our past.
Since we were on the outskirts of Charleston, we stopped by The History Press to meet my editor and discuss my latest book. History Press recently merged with Arcadia Publishing, and we enjoyed a brief tour of the new premises, meeting a few people who I worked with over the years.
From Charleston we drove on to Beaufort, where The Big Chill was filmed. We’ll spend the night here, then descend on the Hilton Head crowd of Vineyard Snowbirds on the morrow. Only 300 miles today, and a bit of socializing.
Tom & Joyce
Day 4 - The first cat’s trophy January 13, 2016
We were alerted to the lateness of the hour when room service knocked on our door … at 9:15. Time to rise and shine. No singing hostess at breakfast but some snowy egrets promenaded outside the hotel. Joyce took her first photos of the trip.
We failed to mention yesterday how helpful Agnes turned out to be. Who knew an imaginary voice could direct us up one street and down another to find Janet’s beautiful home, nestled on the edge of a golf course. Agnes of course is the GPS on our iPhone, which we finally figured out how to use.
The quick drive to Hilton Head seemed to take forever; how could 30 miles feel like 300? At more than halfway along the route, Joyce said, “You’re not going to like this.” I said, “Try me.” She said she had forgotten her jacket in the closet of the last hotel. I said, “I don’t like that.” We decided to decide what to do later, and continued on our route, arriving promptly at noon, to be greeted by our Vineyard Snowbirds. Lots to catch up on in the two weeks since we last conversed!
After lunch the Schos and Goodells found solace at the spa or the pool or the couch. We went for a bike ride along the lovely, long sand beach on the eastern shore of Hilton Head island.
Six of us dined at a fish restaurant with happy hour prices, then played a couple of rounds of Quiddler. Good to be settled in one place for a day or two. Tom and Joyce
Day 5 - Lost in Place January 14, 2016
Stacks. Anyone who’s been to Hilton Head knows the place to go for pancakes, or breakfast in general, is Stacks. Lots of options; all good. That’s how we began the day with Pat and Jay.
Joyce’s jacket did not turn up at the hotel, so we now have a perfect excuse to go shopping.
Schofields set off for pickleball, Goodells had their agenda, Joyce did her PT exercises so Tom was left to … get the oil changed. How hard could that be? Of course I got lost as I didn’t believe the GPS when it brought me to a shopping center. I re-calibrated it and Agnes sent me a couple of miles away. I stopped and re-set her. Again. And again. After five stops I ended up back at the shopping center; still no Jiffy Lube. I called for directions, but ended up at Midas, where a polite customer told me politely where to go. Jiffy Lube was behind the shopping center. Who knew? In and out … in a jiffy.
Lunch with the gang, then we split up, with the ladies off to the spa for relaxation therapy, Dick went for a swim, and Jay and I rode our bikes on the beach. Then Dick drove me over to the spa to join “the girls”, and another adventure followed. I couldn’t find my way to the pool without help. The pool was great, however, as was the hot tub, the steam room and relaxation room. And the girls enjoyed them as well, and for a much longer time frame.
We gathered tonight for 2 for 1 dinners at Black Marlin. This place caters to the senior citizen crowd, so we had nothing to worry about. We ended the evening with a few hands of hands and foot, a variation of canasta, invented in Uruguay in 1948 and introduced to the States in the 1950s. The girls sounded trounced the guys.
Tom and Joyce
Day 6 - Way down upon the Suwannee River January 15, 2016 - The Ides
Stacks. Anyone who’s been to Hilton Head knows the place to go for pancakes, or breakfast in general, is Stacks. Lots of options; all good. That’s how we began the day with Pat and Jay and Dick and Patti. This was our farewell feast in Hilton Head, and it was a soggy farewell, as the rain pounded down in sheets, curtailing all outdoor activities. Except driving.
We were on the road before 11 am and covered the 280 mile trip to our Suwannee River cabin in five hours. The cabin is a delight, on stilts, with all the accoutrements of an outdoor getaway: bar-b-q grill, fire pit, outdoor chairs, tire swing, lots of open roadways for biking and hiking, AND the Suwannee River abuts the property, suitable for swimming and boating of sorts, complete with a deck and canoe awaiting our use.
Our landlord stopped by to show us around, pointing out the extras he’s added: dog treats, new washer and dryer, condiments, charcoal briquettes, kindling. Very nice fellow, Boy Scout leader, family man, and it shows. We’re pleased.
Unfortunately both daughters were delayed in their arrival, so it turned into a late night. While we awaited the daughters’ arrival, we drove off a dozen miles to a grocery store to stock up for the weekend. [When I asked if the local IGA sold beer — they did — an attendant offered that at the local monastery the nuns spend Lent just eating bread and drinking beer, and a strong beer it is, he added.] Of course we got into trouble mis-using our credit card so Joyce had to spend ten minutes with fraud alert explaining the details of our travels. All set now, we believe.
Amy’s flight to Tampa from LA was delayed a couple of hours, through Minnesota, so she and Brian showed up at 11 pm, glowing with the glory of their GPS. Jill’s drive, from NOLA, was hours after we anticipated as well, reaching the Suwannee River just after midnight, and full of praise for the GPS as well. [Curt is to drive over on Saturday.]
With Jill’s three dogs, plenty of beer and chips and salsa and left-over pizza, it turned into a late night, but at least we all made it to our appointed site.
There’s plenty to do here, and nothing to do here, as there’s no cell service, so we may end up having to actually talk to each other. Horrors!
Day 7 - Along the Lazy River January 16, 2016
With last night’s late arrivals we all slept in. Joyce and I had breakfast on the deck, overlooking the grounds. We all sat around chatting for some time, then walked down to the River, about a quarter mile away. The landlord caught up with us on his ATV to make sure everything was to our liking, which it was. A minor crisis occurred when Jill’s dog Sandy spotted a deer and darted off into the woods. A neighbor, also on an ATV, heard us calling, and soon Sandy re-appeared, none the worse for wear. We don’t know about the deer.
The River flows about 3 mph, pretty rapidly. We watched it briefly, but as it started to rain, we headed back to the house. Curt arrived after his 7 hour drive from NOLA. I cooked hot dogs for the crowd, then Curt went for a 24 mile bike ride, Brian ran a couple of miles, Amy napped, Jill read, Joyce and I walked back to the River.
I took a nap, only to be startled awake as it was time to hit the road. We sped off to find the Patriots game, stopping for directions at one of the many small convenience stores. The sports bar we found was a delight, as was the game; we enjoyed dinner and drinks and vibrant conversation. After dinner we stopped and shopped, then home for a rousing round of Quiddler, which Curt won handsomely. Now the younger set is engrossed in The Big Short as the older set hit the sack. Life along the Suwannee River is smooth.
Day 8 - Memorable Moments January 17, 2016
Again, no cell service. We are learning to deal with it and to actually talk with one another. We read in bed, knowing the youngsters would sleep in, so it was close to ten before we started to mill around the breakfast table, eating a variety of whatever was available, including Amy’s egg dish. Last night’s shopping spree produced enough food for a week.
Curt went off for a bike ride and Brian for a run. Amy went speed walking and Joyce did her PT exercises. Jill and Tom ambled down to the waterfront with the dogs; the Suwannee continues to move rapidly along. We talked about Jill’s book on the French Quartour.
The day segued smoothly from one activity to the next. It was clear and sunny, with a slight chill in the air. Mid-afternoon we piled into cars and drove to a nearby state forest for a couple of walks, nothing too strenuous but enjoyable for all parties. Home to more chatting, then another walk down to the River where Amy and Brian dared put the canoe in the River and paddle upstream. They had fun and we enjoyed their ride vicariously.
Curt prepared dinner, with flair as Amy assembled a salad. Curt prepared a fire in the fire pit and we sat around trying to think of ghost stories to tell. That was convivial and no one complained of smoke in their eyes. We wrapped up the day with a game of Cranium, which Jill and Curt won although Tom and Joyce started off in first place and Amy and Brian almost won.
It’s been a delightful couple of days in a cabin on stilts in the woods. We’re already talking about where to go next year. The relaxation, cooperation and congenial conversation has made this a memorable weekend. We could not have hoped for as nice a time. It was great.
Day 9 - Half-way Mark January 18, 2016
We’re back on line!
Today was a time of transition. We drove from our Suwannee Cypress Cabin to Riverview near Tampa, some 175 miles, to stay with Pat and Jay Schofield and Pat’s sister Eileen. Hospitality reigns.
Our day began at 6 am as Amy and Brian packed up and departed for the Tampa airport and a return to their reality of three young ‘uns in Culver City, Los Angeles. It was so great to spend time with them, a vibrant, lively, energized couple.
Jill and Curt packed up and left around 11, for the drive back to New Orleans. Unfortunately Jill’s dog Roonie is in rough shape. He’s 17, blind, deaf and feeble. Jill has been a great caretaker, but we fear the time has come.
Our trip to Riverview proved a challenge, with the voices of two women competing for driving directions. Joyce disputed Agnes, our GPS, and re-routed us off the assigned path, which caused a delay, but Joyce was pleased to believe she outwitted the infernal direction decider. And our approach to Riverview was confused as we were directed north instead of south, but it all worked out.
Pat and Jay and Eileen treated us to a delicious home-cooked meal, and we enjoyed a peaceful evening, catching up. Our road-trip is now half over, as we ponder our travels in the vicinity of Sarasota where tornadoes struck this weekend. Weather certainly plays a role in this adventure.
Tom and Joyce
Day 10 - Chilly, but no snow or the Great Gate Caper In Memory of Glenn Frey of the Eagles
So we went out for breakfast at The Egg and I and Joyce ordered Viva la France which was, surprisingly, French toast. The waiter brought her blueberry pancakes and bacon and eggs instead, which pleased her no end. He then found the French toast, and gave her that as well.
During breakfast I got a call from my old third-grade teacher, inviting us to lunch this Thursday.
Pat’s sister lives in a gated community. We haven’t decided if the gate is to keep people in or out. Unfortunately, when you live in a gated community, you need a clicker to open the gate. Pat & Jay don’t have one yet so Pat & Joyce went to punch in the code. Unfortunately the gate doesn’t stay open that long so the girls made a mad dash to get through before the bars fell closed again. We decided we needed a walk after our huge breakfast and started out on foot. Once more we had the gate to contend with. We waited until a car came through and then hurried before it closed. On our return we were allowed through, on foot, by a kindly soul who kept clicking the gate to let everyone through. And still later, Pat and Joyce had to race their car through the gate as they followed a gate-keeper car through. There was much swerving and hooting in the car. Oh, the challenges of a gated community!
Our 90-minute walk along man-made ponds was energizing, but a little on the chilly side.
This afternoon we went to the movie Spotlight, the saga of the Boston Globe investigative reporting of the Catholic priest abuse scandal. It was powerful, dramatic and poignant. It gave a fair assessment of the tragedy of this painful epidemic.
We ate dinner at home, then dashed off to Buffalo Wings to compete in a weekly trivia contest. While we’d like to think we know a thing or two about trivial matters, it was fun, and we proved our mettle by coming in sixth of ten teams.
Our vacation is moving along. A few more days on the west coast with friends, then Key West. And I’d like to add that last weekend with my daughters and their husbands was such a delight. Seems we all had a great time together. Makes me proud. And happy.
Day 11 - Lazy Day January 20, 2016 [one year from inauguration day]
Slept in. Ate Joyce’s extra breakfast from yesterday. Tom and Jay set off on a 20-minute walk around the gated community, on the inside. Then Pat and Jay headed off to play Pickleball. Tom and Joyce stayed in, reading, doing physical therapy exercises and savoring the lanai.
Highlight of the day was going to Costco. Pat’s sister Eileen works an end-cap, doling out free samples. We savored her samples then mosied over for bottled water, at 25 cents per. As you drop in your quarter, you choose which bottle you want, and the arm of the machine picks it for you. Fun!
A second highlight was going to the Salvation Army because it’s half-price on clothes on Wednesdays. Pat and Joyce savored the bargains; Tom and Jay savored the couches and chairs.
We went out to dinner twice tonight. First stop was Outback, but the 30 minute wait put us off, so we tooled over to Longhorn, where the wait was only 35 minutes. Eventually we made it in and dined, though only two of our party of five had steak. Go figure.
Tomorrow we leave Riverview to see three different people in Sarasota, then begin the long trek south. It’s been great to stay with Pat and Jay and Eileen, but all good things come to an end.
Day 12 - Sarasota January 21, 2016
It was time to say good-bye to our friends the Schofields in Riverview, but the time had come to seek new adventures further south. We headed for Sarasota, first leg on our trip to Key West.
First stop: luncheon with a woman who taught third grade with me from 1970 to 1980 at Fort Devens. Myrtle Cournoyer was in great shape for 82, full of memories and steady in her southern life. Lunch was delightful. Only challenge was for Joyce to keep track of our chatter.
Second stop: luncheon (again) with high school classmate John Keith and wife Glenda at Phillippe Creek Oyster Bar. Great to catch up again, after the congenial but congested reunion. Retirement suits them well, and we were very happy to get together.
Third stop: 530 Burns Gallery to visit Mikel Hunter, a trans-planted Vineyarder for the winter with his pop-up shop. Very chic. Good to share a glass of wine.
Only issue of concern today was Tom getting in an argument with Agnes and Joyce who both tried to send us south, while Tom insisted we were driving north. Now we’ve both learned to follow Agnes’ directions.
Tonight we're at the southern edge of Sarasota, on Tamiami Highway. Tomorrow, brunch with old friend Jim McIntosh, a transplant from the north.
Day 13 - Key Largo January 22, 2016
Our day began with a breakfast meeting with Jim McIntosh, a fellow Tom worked with over the years on writing and publishing. He re-located to Florida from New Hampshire and we caught up in the charming town of Venice. Unfortunately, Jim is a Seinfeld soft-speaker and the considerable chatter at the croissant shop caused Tom to miss much of what he had to say; fortunately Joyce hears and remembers better than Tom.
Rain. Traffic. We slogged across Florida for five hours, avoiding Jonas but encountering rainy roadways. Made it onto Key Largo and quickly booked a room at the Hampton Inn.
A highlight of the day was a call from Janet Beebe, the high school classmate we visited last week in South Carolina. She wondered how we were doing and we brought her up to speed.
Dinner down the street at a nice Italian seafood spot. Very good. Amusing conversation. Joyce engaged one couple about their experience driving an RV across country, delivering it from Chicago to San Francisco over a five-week period. Intriguing concept. And over our manicotti and pasta with sausage and pepper, Joyce engaged the couple next to us in chatter about work, vacation, the Keys and Tom interested them in his writing. So it all works.
We’re reaching the last pinnacle in our travels: the drive to Key West, the walk around town, the savoring and sampling of various foods and beverages, the visits to houses of Truman and Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Should be a rough day. Then we head home.
Day 14 - Key West January 23, 2016
Another grueling day on the road. We had a 100-mile drive to Key West from Key Largo. It was superb: cruising along a two-lane roadway along dozens of keys or islands, over myriad bridges, through wildlife refuges, past t-shirt shops, idyllic coves and spectacular ocean scenery. What a memorable ride.
We arrived in Key West, parked the car, and made our way to Hog’s Breath for pre-noon sustenance. That bar is quieter and calmer than some, yet there’s still a lot going on. Joyce bought me a t-shirt, so I’m now a proud Hog’s Breather.
An abundant number of kiosks drew our attention. We sauntered down to Mallory Square where the signature sunset site is situated, then walked to the home of Ernest Hemingway. A casual guide presented a tour of the house where Papa lived and worked in the 1930s. We savored the photos, his contemporaries, the books, the movies, the atmosphere of the man. And we met numerous cats; there are 54 in residence at the moment, many with six toes.
From there it got interesting. We stopped by the Truman Summer White House, and Joyce convinced me I should take the tour. So what did she do? She sat down among a wedding party reception, right on the grounds of the House. How cool was that? The tour was great, but seeing Joyce among the tuxes and gowns was amusing.
We meandered among the kiosks again, sampled Haagen-Dazs, took in an outdoor sculpture gallery, sauntered by Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Hemingway’s hang-out, and caught a couple of acts at Mallory Square, in preparation for the sunset. The juggler twirled fire sticks, rode a unicycle and had a great stage presence.
Dinner was at Red Fish Blue Fish. Our entree was delish, and left room for a slice of key lime pie, the perfect way to end the day. However, it wasn’t over until we checked into our nearby Hibiscus hotel, leapt into the heated pool, then relished the hot tub. Tough day.
Our sympathies lie with our comrades along the northeast corridor battling Jonas. We feel just a little bit guilty thinking about what you all are enduring, as we pack up to head north.
Day 15 - Patriotic Dismay January 24, 2016
We topped off our stay in Key West with a photo-op at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and a stop at the Southernmost point in these United States. Then we hit the road, along the beautiful beaches and the endless roadway of Route 1, over myriad bridges and keys for a hundred miles.
Somewhere along the way we realized we were low on food and fuel. We eventually found a gas station, but it was hours before we came to a Cracker Barrel in Florida City. People were on the porch, which indicated a short wait. When the hostess said there were 50 people ahead of us, we realized it was time to move on. Down the road Dunkin Donuts sufficed, yet our five hour drive still took six hours.
A guard checked our credentials as we entered high school classmate Joanie Nartowt’s gated community. He informed us the Patriots had just missed the extra point after their touchdown. That foreshadowed the game. Joanie greeted us at the door, introduced us to a half-dozen fellow fans, sat us down with a drink and we proceeded to watch the Pats unfold. It was distressing.
The rest of the evening was another trip, this time down memory lane. Joanie and Joyce chatted for six hours; Tom added his recollections now and then. It was a great evening of catching up, remembering, recalling and seeing where we are now.
Tom and Joyce
Day 16 - Homeward Bound January 25, 2016
We want to thank our loyal fans for their support on this expedition. It’s been great hearing from you and we apologize for not answering each message individually.
We enjoyed breakfast with Joanie this morning, reminiscing some more and promising to get together next summer. This was a great visit, friendly and accommodating. Joyce even got along well with her two cats.
We drove from Palm City to Hilton Head today in something over six hours. No big adventures along the way. Relatively easy ride.
Some points to ponder:
Tom has driven 2,890 miles so far. Joyce 0
We have seventeen cds and have played: 0
We had an average speed of 75 today, for over two hours
We spent ten days in Florida
Joyce finished her book today, the 1149 page Echo in the Bone of the Outlander series.
We reached Hilton Head in time for dinner. Dick Goodell prepared a special vegetarian feast, except for the chicken, and it was delicious. Patti is hobbling around on crutches, but laughing all the time. We played an energized game of Quiddler which got us all laughing. It was a relaxing evening and felt like we were home.
Day 17 - Sweet Carolinas January 26, 2016
Our host Dick rose early for a round of golf, then joined us for a late breakfast. He spilled his milk, then the cookies, and ended up taking a power nap. Patti prepared lunch; Dick woke up to join us, then took us out to pay a visit to a local gator, sunning himself on the edge of the golf course. Joyce got some good close ups; Tom huddled behind the scenes.
After a leisurely morning we headed off for points north, around 2 pm. We drove nearly seven hours, move than 400 miles, cruising through the Carolinas, and ended up in Emporia, Virginia. The highlight of the drive was getting gas at $1.56/gallon. When was the last time gas was that low?
Along the way we pulled into a truck stop for a Subway sub; must have been a couple of dozen trailer trucks in the lot. The loud-speaker announced when the next driver could take his shower; a counter on the wall registered which number was next. Driving at night is another world.
Day 18 - 571 January 27, 2016
On the road. Again. Longest day of our trek, some 571 miles, starting in Emporia, Virginia and ending in Charlton, Massachusetts, nine hours later. We’re staying with Joyce’s sister Marcia and her husband Rich, who graciously host these wayward travelers.
We drove through seven states today. Those with the most snow were Maryland and Virginia, both with plows clearing the edges of the highways. Otherwise it was a pretty easy drive.
We did stop once, at Maryland House, in Maryland of all places. We had a bite to eat and I drove off to fill up the tank, once again. Another car was just ahead of me. With Massachusetts plates. In Maryland. There was an HH decal on the car. I looked at the man pumping gas, and it was Glenn Fields, and his wife, Liz, who spend summers in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. We had a nice chat, and it was back on the road again. How small is the world we live in?
Tomorrow we head for home, after staying in seven hotels and meeting with ten friends scattered along the eastern seaboard. It’s been a great trip, but we’re ready for our own bed.
Tom & Joyce
Day 19 - Home Sweet January 28, 2016
Our day began with Marcia and Rich hosting us for a leisurely breakfast, accompanied by their three-year-old grandson Jackson, who managed to get us up and moving remarkably quickly.
We drove through the car-wash and tanked up once more before catching the 2:30 boat on our way home. We lunched aboard ship, drove into Oak Bluffs for the mail and groceries, and now we are home. Home, sweet home.
Took a quick trip to the Y to see Jocelyn and Shealyn at their swimming lessons, then home for soup and sandwiches and an episode of Downton Abbey. And we’re both exhausted, but exhilarated.
It was a great trip, as you may have gathered. We traveled over 4,000 miles, through a dozen states. Our only arguments focused on Agnes, our GPS who unfailingly got us where we wanted to go, even when we disagreed. Remarkable.
We enjoyed meeting old high-school classmates ever-so-much; we caught up with long-lost friends. We shared time with Vineyard snowbirds; we had a great internet-free weekend with Tom’s daughters and their husbands. And we loved the New Orleans-style ambiance of Key West, our favorite sight-seeing site. We couldn’t have asked for a better time.