Our Journey of Thirty-Two Sleeps: Part One

Sleep one After having breakfast in Los Angeles in the morning and having dinner at Half Moon diner upstate New York in the evening is not an easy task. There was a lot of work in the traveling mode to achieve our breakfast and dinner with a bunch of little snacks in between. We are sleeping in Bolton Landing, (established in (1799) perched atop Lake George in a mountain home which is more unique than most of the houses we passed on our ride in. In front of this mountain home fly two flags, the American flag and the Marine Corps flag. We were told, “Once a Marine, always as Marine.” Sleep was an important rejuvenating necessity and was provided by a private room with luxurious sheets and down comforters. Tired is an understatement.  Once rested you are ready to conquer the world once again. We woke to breakfast service in the main dining room with gigantic windows showing off the land leading to Lake George. The wind would rise and fall and with each rise it would blow a rainstorm of leaves falling to the ground below forming a carpet of color beneath the tree. The sight is awe-inspiring and humbling in it’s showing of nature working through the windows. Watching these nature dances through the windows gives you the notion that of course there is a higher power, in fact, but if not a higher power or order, then, what? Next telling mountain event was the delivery of heating oil. They filled the tank making the house ready for winter heating.  It was an interesting delivery because we just flip the button and gas comes from somewhere and we have heat. Sleep 2 This morning was spent enjoying the environs of our hosts E & D’s beautiful mountain home in Bolton Landing in the foothills of the Adirondacks.  All the while, I keep a watchful eye for humping deer. This is the mating season and the deer love to hump in this spot. They will carry their offspring all winter and then, in the spring they come to this spot as a family. I was told to marvel at the deer as an animal extraordinaire. Why? Think about the phenomenon of an animal that lives and thrives in a habitat that gives them twenty below and over 100 degrees and yet they adapt. Isn’t nature supreme? At noon, we picked up a picnic lunch before our boat ride in and around the 35-mile long Lake George finding ourselves guests of P & D at their compound consisting of three small islands connected by Gothic looking bridges.  It was thrilling to be escorted and to visit this lovely spot in the middle of the lake. If you are a blood relative you were welcome to build a home and live on the islands, but now that most of the building is done, you have to buy what is there now from a relative. The summer finds many of the Sir clan living and visiting this lovely idyllic paradise at the water’s edge. During the winter months you have only P & D living year round.  I asked P how they get to the mainland when the lake is frozen solid and she said they have a Norwegian Sleigh, they have a canoe they use and paddle it along the ice to get over the solid lake; they skate and have their private secrets on getting to and getting what they need during the months of living on the frozen winter water. She said that they close off a good part of the house and live in a small portion of it during the freeze. As we boated our way to the mainland, I turned and saw the beautiful trio of islands and bridges receding and realized that we were very privileged guests and I thank P & D for their generous hospitality, the generous gift of imparting their knowledge and sharing their fortunate life with us for the afternoon. Thank you P & D. Sleep 3 Today we rode an amphibian (Hydra-Terra vehicle) tour bus/boat to experience and delight ourselves with the sights of New York’s capital city of Albany. Not only is it New York’s capital city but also, it is the city of Skip’s birth. Even though Skip is a historic sight himself, we took the tour with experienced guides to enlighten us about the other historic sites of this 402-year-old city. We passed by the Albany City Hall, the Ten Broeck Mansion, Washington Park, New York State Museum, the Palace, which was the flagship theater of RKO, many years ago and the D & H (Delaware and Hudson) railroad building.  

After an hour ride through Albany a beautiful city we rolled and splashed into the Hudson River.   There are many interesting sights along the river and one that put some puzzle pieces together for me was the replica of Henry Hudson’s ship of discovery, The Half Moon.  Remember I mentioned we had dinner at the Half Moon Diner.  Now I fully understand the origin of this diner’s name.

Nashville: The City of Music, Love, Food and Candy

Jack's for Barbeque on Broadway

If you know anyone who used to fake being sick so they could stay home and listen to Host Cliffie Stone and his Hometown Jamboree, introduce me to them, will you please.  We share the same roots.  I have always been a Country Music fan, and found that I still am, totally and absolutely. Coming to Nashville has put my love of country music in its rightful place in my heart and soul.  Spending time with our dear friends, P. and S. is on the top of all reasons we chose to come here.

Minnie Pearl giving P. some advice.

In Nashville, there was an opportunity to see the Ryman Auditorium where it all began, to experience southern barbeque at Jack’s, to walk down Broadway and slip in and out of music venues. One after another, you go from one piercing, heartfelt sound to one more. Each one of us in the group had our special sounds that we clung to and few liked the same performers.  I got into The Don Kelley Band and became mesmerized by a special guest, Johnny Hiland on the electric guitar. He was jamming to Ghost Riders. Then and there I found out that even at my ripe old age, I could be/have been a groupie. After listening for quite a while, it was time to move on, and I was dizzy, weak kneed and felt full of the reverberations and resonations powerful sound creates. It left a “Honky Tonk” residue that has lasted long after the music wafted away.

We met P & S at the Nashville airport and our adventures began right then and there and did not stop until we were put back at the airport for our journey home.  Yes, we did touristy things. Why not? P & S spent their college years in Nashville, so they knew quite a few things tourists don’t know. We drove out of town to Brentwood, saw some homes of the stars, drove on to Franklin, the town where during the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin, one of the final battles of the war was fought. On the way to and from Franklin, we saw some charming Tennessee countryside and forty-seven churches. (I counted every one of them with a little help from our friends) Since it was a weekday, the church parking lots were basically empty, but come Sunday ALL of the parking lots were full. Our lot was so full, we had to park catawampus but left room for others to come and go as we readied ourselves for Sunday morning services. The parking lot was full and so were the pews. Standing room only and parking down in the streets.

The next morning we had a wonderful experience at The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which turned out to be an interactive musical experience. Country music songs, legends, clothes, instruments and stories from long ago until now are on display. This experience was a real tribute to Country Music, the Country Music Stars and to the city of Nashville. We drove around on some of the streets around the museum and one house after another has been turned into a recording studio. Nashville is truly the city of music.

If you like candy you will be impressed with the Goo Goo Cluster. They are an original Southern confection made in Nashville, TN.  A Goo Goo candy is a roundish mound of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and drenched in chocolate. Its taste is one you will never forget. They say there is nothing like it in the world. Probably not, but I did find its competition called Marie McGee’s Bumble Bees, also made in Nashville TN.  They are heavenly.  You eat one of Marie’s Bumble Bees, close your eyes and tears of joy will come dripping down. You can order Goo Goos and Marie McGee’s Bumble Bees online. Go ahead order a box of each, take the taste test and get back to me. I know what you will say.

The Grand Ole Opry House

When in Nashville you must attend the show that made Country Music Famous, yes, you’ve guessed it, The Grand Ole Opry.  Before you go to the show, or after, visit Gaylord Opryland Hotel. It is a must see as well. The Grand Ole Opry is the longest LIVE radio show in the U. S. and while you enjoy your show, you will have many intervals where all is stopped in deference to the commercial messages sent across the airwaves. The high energy in the Opry house and the people watching in the audience make up for the commercial time out.

Little Jimmy Dickens

Our show was hosted by: Riders in the Sky, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens and Vince Gill. Our performing stars were Patty Loveless, Mike Snider, Dierks Bently, Vince Gill and a host of others.  Hail Mary, we have been to the Grand Ole Opry. We have seen Nashville, heard the sounds, been immersed in the traditions of the Country Music and were deeply moved by the songs of the South!!

Vince Gill and Patty Loveless

We drove out into the countryside to Fayetteville for the night. As we arrived into this lovely classic Tennessee country town, we were greeted by a howling sound that buzzed loudly, continuously and unmercifully. “The Cicada’s are here,” announced S. They come about every thirteen years. They hibernate in the ground and in the trees and come out on schedule.  I heard L. say that this would be her last Cicada’s because in thirteen years she must be planning to be gone.  We had a little talk with her about that and feel she will see another Cicada season.  I hope so and if I am around, I want to come back to Fayetteville in Lincoln County to be with P.’s family and see L. living through another Cicada outbreak.

The General Store

We ate lunch at the general store. The next time you make chicken salad, pop in some chopped apple and grapes. Yum.

We spent some time on Fayetteville’s Main Street and walked around the square. P.’s family are the nicest, most generous and kindhearted people you would ever want to meet.

The Dance Recital

A Peek at Lucy's Dance!

We hung out at little Lucy’s dance recital in the early evening. The town was quiet during our walk around it throughout the day, but the auditorium was packed for the dance recital. Our eyes and ears were treated to the community as they came in droves for this event. After the recital we drove out into the rolling hills and had dinner in a little restaurant on the side of a country road.  The food was spectacular and the company around that table was lovely and loving.  We felt so enveloped and accepted. I had to pinch myself and say in my inside voice, look where you are; look who you are with; look what you are doing; hear the cicadas; think about the green rolling countryside; you are in the middle of the world with people who care; I remembered being told the town has a bench called the Spit and Whittle where old men gather to pass the time spitting and whittling; this town is so real, so authentic and so important because P. and his family grew up here and many still live here; what an honor to share it with them.

Our time in this part of the south is a treasure trove of learning and memories with S. and P. and P’s family. We must return.

Today’s Bits and Pieces: Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope, Alabama!

You need to visit this little town in Alabama with hundreds of artists, authors and beautiful and friendly towns folks. Fairhope is the American Dream, still alive and thriving. I will tell you that we stayed in Suellen and Elisa’s home, but I can’t tell you exactly where because they would not like so many houseguests. Phil came and stayed too, and then there is Sophie and Dusty, so you see the house was full.

There are many and varied churches to choose from in and around this little town and the one I chose to attend, was suggested by our hosts. First of all, the welcome was brilliant, the people were there to pray and the Acappella, harmony of the songs they sang sent me directly to heaven on earth. More

Today’s Bits and Pieces: Palm Beach Florida!

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

On our trip, we visited with lovely friends in Palm Beach, Florida. I did not now it, but soon realized we were on an island. The beautiful gift giving Atlantic Ocean was viewed on one side of the deck and if you turned you viewed the Intra Coastal Waterway.  “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink,”

Everyday we saw something new. One day we happened upon a shell shop. Now this was not your ordinary shell shop, this one is totally distinctive in a very creative approach. We happened back to the shell shop for photographs the next day and the owner allowed us to go back into the garden and workshop where they made some of their unusual items for sale in the front of the store. Palm Beach has something for everyone even in the pouring, pounding rain. More

Today’s Bits and Pieces: First Class Seating

I feel like telling you that First Class airline seating is a crock today. Maybe it is the wonder of flying, but today it is a crock.  I took Diane’s advice and shelled out the extra bucks for the first seats in the first class section for a flight across the Unites States.  Diane guess what, there were two ladies in back of me that were so totally irritating and when they included the lady across the way in their conversations, the sounds became unbearable. Their voices collectively and individually were piercing. I actually thought one was a man; a 300-pound man was my take until I turned around and saw an unattractive woman to match the voice. What a surprise. The two women directly behind me did not take a break from talking for the full 5-hour flight and the one directly behind me kept banging and kicking into my chair. Dear God, I had a headache and felt battered and beaten with words. I love words, all kinds of words, almost every word you can think of, but I hated their words, all of them. The way they said them, the way they kept up the banter, and I just wanted to yell. I kept thinking they would at least take a break during the drink service but no they did not even take the time to breath, they just kept talking. I didn’t turn around, but I am certain they talked with their mouths loaded.

Shame on me for my total lack of compassion for my fellow travelers, after all, we are all in the same boat, I mean plane. Finally, after about a full hour of the lady directly behind me banging, kicking, slamming my chair, opening and closing the tray table and heaven knows what else, I turned around and said, “Please.”  “Oh, I am sorry,” she said, but she never stopped talking on and on and on. They were so obnoxious I felt like I was going to throw up, but got the bright idea just in time to ask for the earphones given by the airline so that you can enjoy their selections of music. Whew!! More

Free Lunch in Little Italy

This story may dispel your theory that there is no such thing as a free lunch. When you have spent hours on the streets of New York City, you want a rest. If you stumble into Little Italy, you will delight that it is so alive and exciting. There is a table right on the street that is shaded by the brightly colored awning, green, white and red striped just like the flag of Italy. How perfectly charming when our group is most contentedly seated. As we looked around, we smelled and saw culinary delights, which can only be produced here in this restaurant on this street in Little Italy. Oh, there are other restaurants, plenty of them all around us, but this one was ours. This one wins our award. Our waiter gave us time to review the menu and then, circled back to take our order. More

Today’s Bits and Pieces: “How I Was Suckered in Weehawken

When you decide to visit the Big Apple, you have to make an even bigger decision and that is where to stay. You can stay just about anywhere in the Manhattan and be able to get around to see all of the sights. We decided to stay in Weehawken, a little town across the river. Our room was the one centered in the middle of the hotel, right on the waterfront. The ferry arrives at your door every 15 minutes and glides you off to 42nd street. The ferry over and back each day is a short ride full the images of the Hudson River life, which is teaming and full of bustling activity all hours of day or night. The view of Manhattan from the Jersey side is mind altering, intoxicating, and a true marvel of modern man. This brings me to tell how I was suckered in Weehawken, which when all is said and done is a beautiful and innocent town. More

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