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It’s Christmas Eve put the computer away, is what she said to me. But I have friends out there waiting to hear from me. Well wait until later before you go to bed, unless you hear the bells, on Santa’s sled.
I’ve got to send greetings to those who follow me, this is one day I just can’t let pass. Well right now we’ve got to get ready and, get to Mass, there is someone more important to who we must thank, and before church we need gas in the tank. So I log off the keys and clean up my act. If we don’t hurry, we’ll stand in the back.
We fill up the tank and drive to the church, I’m driving too fast, and we stop with a lurch. We’re greeted by the Priest with a skeptical stare, I’m thinking he saw us, speeding in there. We find us a seat and just settle in, as the priest and the Alter Boy’s march does begin.
The opening prayer is on Christmas and the birth of Christ, it’s the season of Joy and, everyone’s so nice. The theme of the Homily is to go forth and be kind, I turn to the wife and just start to smile, I’ve been kind to the woman for quite a while. Fifty-three years together are we, I shut my eyes and our first Christmas Mass together I see.
It was 1966 in New Jersey, a cold winter’s night when the two of us walked through thunder and snow. It was 8/10 of a mile to the church, the wind gusts were blowing 25 knots or so. There was something so special with everything white, I remember that walk, like it was this Holy Night.
Back at my grandmothers home after Mass, we were offered Mogen David wine, in a fancy cut glass. Joining us there were Aunt Maude and Uncle Jim. When I was little, every time they would depart, he would give me a dime. Those memories way back to a long-ago time, bring genuine joy and, I remember the Homily, Be Kind! theRooster, 2018
There are many great memories of Christmas with our families. While living in Connecticut, we would have Christmas Day at home and then in a day or two drive to New Jersey and Delaware to celebrate with our respective families there. This, of course, was a grand time for the kids when they were young. Santa seemed to always leave a few out of state gifts for our three, what a treat.
That first Christmas Mass together was attended at Holy Maternity Catholic church in Audubon, NJ. We walked the 8/10 of a mile from my grandmother’s house at W. Pine and 4th Ave. You can check the weather at the Wunderground site below. Twas, not a night fit for man or beast, but we were young, so what the hell.
An excellent remembrance for me was a Christmas Eve I had to work many years ago. I was a young State Trooper and my assignment on this eve was I-84 between Rt. 32 and the Massachusetts State Line. It was called the Upper Patrol. On this night I exchanged my big grey Stetson for a red floppy Santa’s hat, big white tassel on end and all.
If my memory serves me correctly, it was a relatively quiet evening. I would make a few stops, give some verbal warnings. I would hand out candy canes to those I came in contact with and wish them a Merry Christmas and ask them to please drive safely as they continued their journey. After the shift was over, I’d enter our home quietly, my lady was waiting up, and we would have a bit of quiet time and last minute wrapping together. Those were the days my friends.
This past week saw us journey North to CT to visit our son and his family. We would take a leisurely route and cross into NY via the Bear MT. bridge.
A stop at the 202 diner in Cortlandt provided nourishment.
It was only a three-day visit, but it was grand to be with those who are near and dear to our hearts. We had a meal at our favorite haunt when visiting Tolland, Camille’s. I got to spend a few hours with an old member of the Thin Blue Line, #467. We drank coffee at Dunkin Donut’s and told war stories for a couple of hours. I spent time with a brother-in-law, talking clocks and wine racks. He’s quite a Woodworker.
Yes, Christmas time is great for bringing us together. I thank the good Lord for giving me and the little women good health to travel and the ability to wish all of you who take a gander at the Blog from time to time a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours.
As I close, remember the theme from the Homily at Mass, BE KIND!
Our trip north has ended and we are back home after XXXX number of miles. How many miles did you put on that Subaru of yours you might ask. Well, thats why we’re having a contest and the winner will receive a Maryland Flag “T” Shirt.
Six years ago my brother in-law Bobby and I made a cross country trip together to Colorado, we were delivering a car to my granddaughter at the Air Force Academy. I blogged our trip through the Ohio River Valley, the bread belt of Illinois and Kansas and up to the Rockies of Colorado. We had a T Shirt contest for that adventure as well. Our winner was Della Baird of Wilmington, NC and her photo in her winning T Shirt was posted on a later blog. Uncle Bobby is no longer with us, but whenever we go on a trip his spirit for adventure lives.
So, here we go.
You must email the Rooster @ email@example.com no later than midnight on September 30, 2016 with your guess on the # of miles driven on our trip through, CT, RI, MA, NH, ME, NB, PEI, NS and back. The person who comes the closest without going over the actual total mileage is the winner.
Departed Eden/Allen, MD, 21822 on 21 August and drove to Vernon then Tolland, CT. We hung out in CT for six days taking a few side trips to Mystic, CT, Westerly, RI for one and to our daily walking path in Vernon and breakfast there a few times also. We went to Stafford Springs, CT for my State Police Troop “C” reunion also.
Back on the road 28 August we would leave Tolland and head to Bangor, ME. We pretty much drove a direct route to Portland, ME and then the all back roads to Bangor began. We tried to stay parallel to I-95 but we got off the beaten path more than once.
After a nice evening in Bangor, ME we headed out to cross the Canadian border on 29 August at the Calais/St. Stephen crossing and drive to Moncton, NB for the evening. Rt 1 was our road for that trip. We drove around some to see the tide change and have dinner while in Moncton.
On August 30th we arose well rested and after a great breakfast we were off to the home of Lucy Maude Montgomery, the Author of “Anne of Green Gables.” Garmin got us there directly. Now you must do a bit of detective work and locate the site. After some time at Lucy’s homestead we headed to Charlottetown and our hotel. Oops, the rooms not ready. To kill some time we would drive to Brackley Beach and have some great fish and chips. After much it was back to Charlottetown and the hotel right down town.
We arose on the 31st and after some walking about town we drove semi directly to the ferry located at Wood Islands where we would cross to Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax. We would drive directly to Halifax via Garmin and park our car for two days in the garage of the Residence Inn. Our feet would be our transportation for this stop.
We would hop back into the car once again on 2 September and drive via Garmin to Saint John, NB. We did take a side trip to Fundy National Park along the way. More figuring for you readers out there. Once again our feet and a Trolly tour were our transportation while in Saint John for two days.
On Sunday 4 September we departed Saint John, made the border crossing at ST Stephen/Calais once again and followed Garmin’s direction to Bucksport, Me. Once checked into the Bucksport Motor Inn, highly recommend it by the way, we were off on a drive along Route 1 south to Bayside, Belfast and the Young’s Lobster Pound. If ever in Belfast try it out, you will not be sorry, provided you like Lobster that is.
Labor day, September 5 we headed south to Portland, Maine, we ignored Garmin once again and motored along Route 1 south. We saw old haunts along the way, Lincolnville and it’s ferry to Islesboro where we ventured with family for a beachside picnic many years ago. Going through the town of Bath you pass the Bath Iron Works, a neat view as you cross the Kennebec river.
We made a stop in Camden, a must if you ever travel Route 1. Slow down people, get off the Interstate. Entering Camden I had an “Epiphany.” “Wallack” I shouted out as my wife glared at me like I was some crazy man. Ever since heading south from the border I had been trying to remember someone’s name. I’d gone through the alphabet over and over. Have you ever done that? I knew his first name was Mark and when he retired from the CT State Police he had moved to Maine. I had known this man dating back to 1981 when he first applied to the department for a Troopers position. I was working in the Selection Unit back then.
So I remember a name, the man possibly living in Camden from a contact I had back some ten years ago about him retiring to Camden, ME. No address, no phone number and no internet to go searching. “Dang” says I to myself as I ease into a parking spot right in downtown Camden. The little lady want’s to walk the shops, “$$$,” visit the waterfront and just take a nostalgic stroll, we’ve been here numerous times over the past 51 years.
She sees an eclectic souvenir shop and enters. I stroll ahead totally oblivious to her disappearing act which is commonplace. Many times I’m thankful she has her phone with her, “where are you I ask?” On this occasion I recover from the alone feeling quickly and trace her back to the said store. I mean I was a Detective, right?
The Mrs. searches the shelves for something to take to Oklahoma to the great grandkids in October and I think, this place must have a phone book. I borrow the book, peruse the “W’s” list of names and no Mark Wallack, “damn” I mutter to myself. No luck I say to the store owner. “Who are you looking for,” he asks. I explain who, and the connection going back thirty-five years ago. “Mach” he exclaims, “I know Mach.” You see, there are no “R’s” in the Maine vocabulary. The man goes into a lengthy explanation of how he knows him and how much a part of the community he is. I get a phone number and address from him, he lives just one mile out of town. We’re out of the store, $58.95 later, and we head up the street to see an old friend.
We find the house, an adorable Cape on a lake, kayak with fishing rod rigged to the side, (every man’s retirement dream) just waiting at the dock. A feisty Aussie Mini Collie, (could be something else, but that’s close enough) is greeting us on the porch. I find out later the dog’s name is Frisbee. I knock, Mach answers, we recognize each other after all these years and it’s Man Hug Time.
We pass an hour’s plus of time, take a few remembrance photos and say good-by. I shall MACH this epiphany in my journal. It was great seeing you old friend.
We continue south, stop and get a Subway, grinder in hand, New England for Hero, Sub, Italian Sandwich, or what ever. We have ourselves a roadside lunch stop in Rockport and continue south to Freeport, home of L. L. Bean. You can not go through Freeport without stopping at the store, I think it’s a law or something. I have my picture taken in front of the customary boot, spend a few dollars and we’re off again.
We will spend the night in Portland, take a side trip to Windham to have dinner with old friends, Gilbert’s Chowder House was the venue for this last taste test. This time a Bread Bowl of Fish Chowder. Great to see you Shirley and Ray. Shirley and my sister Donna were best of friends, having first met as student nurses back in 1963. Shirley was part of the family at my sisters bedside when she died on July 1st. Thank you Shirley for all you have meant for so many years. The few, the proud, the Pie Maker. Too short a visit, we will make it longer next time. Back to the hotel on Mall Road in Portland for a good nights sleep prior to leaving for Tolland, CT the next AM.
Garmin would be happy with us on Tuesday, September 6. No U-turns were suggested as we cruised the speedy interstates the entire way. We did continue past Tolland to Vernon Pizza for a great Grinder, Capiccola for me, Pastrami for herself.
We lay over one night with the son and family, say good-night and are out the door by 0500 the next morning. Our last day on the road was an easy one, Garmin is not needed at all, I drove this route for the first time 57 years ago. I’ve varied the route countless times, often going far out of the way just to do something different. I’ll keep Garmin on in case a detour is needed at some point but not for directions.
Here you go, last bit of mileage to calculate, Tolland, CT via I-84 to I-684 Brewster, NY to I-287, to Garden State Parkway in NJ. NJ Turnpike, cross into Delaware ( She wore a Yellow Ribbon by the way) Rt. 1 south to Dover, DE to Rt.13 to 21810.
OK you readers out there, get calculating, googling or what ever. Make your best guess and submit it by September 30, 2016 by 2400 hours to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you win and want the shirt, please state size and your mailing address. I shall not flood you with junk mail, only a “T” shirt.
Just a little FYI, we got four new hens last night, 15 weeks old and our first egg this afternoon. Six hens now and one very happy Rooster named Casper. The girls are Mary, Hillary, Donna, Linda, Bobbie and Marie. Hillary by the way is a liar. Always spending time in the layer box, squawking like she just laid an egg and no egg to be found. Liar, Liar, pants on fire.
It is day two of what we are calling 51st honeymoon. It will be a two week travel adventure through DE, NJ, NY, CT to start. I write this on day two of our trip, we are at our son’s home in CT, we shall be here through Saturday when we attend a reunion at my old State Police troop in Stafford Springs. A bunch of old retired farts telling past war stories, another lol. This Sunday we head to Bangor, ME, Monday Moncton, BC then on to Charlottetown, PEI, Halifax, NS, Saint John, BC, Bucksport, ME, Portland, ME, CT, and finally home on the 7th of September.
Who was that just asking what 51st honeymoon meant? Did you ever see 50 First Dates?
Take a gander at the trailer, a really cute movie. https://www.amazon.com/50-First-Dates-Adam-Sandler/dp/B00190L018
Now we have not experienced brain trauma, we are up in our years, were married 51 years ago, and a lot has flown right out and over heads. So, we are just following the script that I somehow programmed into my Garmin Express. I’m going to make a concerted effort to post early and often, kind of like voting, and to keep you all up to date on who, what, when, and where the Rooster and his bride are.
Awoke to 47f/54%rh this AM, already a great first day wake-up.
Today our son and daughter in-law head to Boston with their oldest child, David. David is a college senior and heads out late today from Logan, IAP to Dublin, Ireland and begin his senior year with a semester abroad. He’s already completed one semester out of the country having spent it in Montreal, Canada.
After a quick tidy up of the house we were out the door at 0615 and on the road in our Subaru Forrester for a 360 mile trip to Tolland, CT. We will R & R there until Sunday when we head to Canada.
We had a Golden Arch breakfast in Bridgeville, DE, Got cheap gas at a stop on the NJ, Tpk ., Gave the attendant a $2.00 tip, you can’t pump your own in Jersey, and ventured across the Hudson river via the Lincoln Tunnel. I usually take the George Washington bridge but travel warnings were predicting a 45 minute back-up. 1010 WINS to the rescue.
When you exit the Lincoln you are in immediate chaos of people, traffic and horns blowing. You’re adjacent to the maze that is Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Theater district. After a left on 43rd st we headed to the river and then north on the West Side Hwy. and on to CT. We would pass the Aircraft Carrier Intrepid Museum on the way. Many years earlier the Mrs. and I were lost below decks when on this ship for an open house while it was being decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Year.Old memories rekindled.
For Lunch we would pull off the Merritt Pkwy. in CT and make a stop at a Panera Bread in Fairfield for lunch. This is one of favorite stops when traveling for a great mid-day meal. After lunch we would get some steps in and walk a bit and make a stop at a Pier One Imports store. No buys here. If you remember the lady of the house is disposing, not accumulating.
Nine hours later and four stops we got off the highway at our old, 20 years, home town of Vernon, CT, and traveled familiar roads for a few miles to our sons home in Tolland. A great day, little traffic and a welcoming home. You can’t ask for anything more on your first day of travels. Thank you Lord.
Once again thanks for dropping by the chicken pen. Remember to vote early and vote often. Feeling a little like Charles Karault today.
Sitting here in central Connecticut as the rains have moved in. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. have been quite dry for some time. Our first five days of travel, MD, PA, VT, NH and CT were warm sun lit days. Now we are in place at our son’s home in Tolland, CT and it looks like no sun for anyone on the East coast for the next five days. Along with no sun, lots of rain and perhaps a Hurricane a pending Air Force vs. Navy football game in Annapolis might be an aquatic adventure.
Tropical storm Joaquim is down in the South Atlantic and a possible track along the East Coast could make attending the game a miserable experience. Things have been relatively quiet for the Atlantic Hurricane season the past few years. No one is complaining about the lack of activity over the past few years. Me being a former weather person back in my military days, tend to follow and try predicting tracks of storms as a hobby. Often in the past we have run a family betting pool, big stakes by the way. Sometimes we’d bet buck, perhaps a bottle of wine, especially if the girls are smitten with the competitiveness. I’m always promoting that family zealous atmosphere.
Looking back to our five day adventure, Burlington, VT and the Courtyard Burlington Harbor hotel was a grand experience. Our water view and the setting sun over the lake descending into the Adirondack mountains of New York were spectacular. Lunch at Sweetwaters American Bistro was an experience not forgotten. The sheer volume of Food was eye bulging and very well prepared. Collectively we had Ahi Tuna, Bean Burgers and a Bean Burger salad. A spicy Chicken Taco was our appetizer which could have fed a small army. This restaurant was located in the Church Street Marketplace. Street vendors, Stores of every description as well as performers and musicians abound in this area. We walked downhill to get to Church St. After the meal we were heading back to the Champlain campus for our tour. This trip would be all up hill, I knew my recently repaired knee would not make the climb. Davids kindness prevailed for an old man and I had my first Uber ride.
Sunday morning saw us in Winooski for breakfast with David. Our meal here was consumed in Sneakers Bistro. Volume and great food were once again the norm. After a photo of David and yours truly in front of a Tatoo Parlor, we would drive the well fed college student back to campus and begin our circuitous back roads route to our next stop, Brattleboro, VT.