Friday, September 30, 2016

The Virtual Traveler: The Road Goes on Forever

Refer to previous post:

"Hungry?" I asked.

"Huh? Oh, sure, honey. Want to check out this place?" Wendy responded.

"Just what I was thinking. We can check inside, find out about the new exit."

We pulled in, it was one of the old style general stores we love to hit when traveling. Had that Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, general store look to it. You know the type--old Coke machine up near the front, fresh sandwiches made while you look around, even a jar of pickled bologna on the front counter. Over to the right of the counter and behind it on the back wall was a rack of vacuum tubes. I smiled to myself and thought, "Hmm...haven't seen these in years." So, I called Wendy over and said, "Look, Wen, old vacuum tubes. We used to sell those at Radio Shack back in the day."

"That for some of your electronic gear, Tom?" she asked.

"Mostly old radios." I said to the lady behind the counter, "Guess you don't have much call for vacuum tubes these days, do you?"

"Well, sir, folks around here need them a fair amount. We're a self-sufficient lot."

I didn't think much about it, so I said, "Oh, that's good. Nice to see the old tech still used."

She smiled and kind of raised one eyebrow, then said, "Can I help you folks find anything?"

"We saw your place after we took that new exit off New Circle a minute ago, so we thought we'd stop in, see what you have to eat."

"Sure thing. You like roast beef sandwiches?"

Wendy and I both said, "Yep."

"But this New Circle you mentioned a minute ago. What is that?"

"New Circle Road. Around Lexington. We saw all the construction and noticed this new exit for Georgetown, so we decided to take it and see where it leads us. Felt like a drive and maybe even heading up to Indiana or Ohio for the day."

She laughed and said, "Folks, I think you're a bit out of your way right now. You're in Missouri. Although I heard you say something about Georgetown, and you are on the road to Georgetown, Missouri. If you hop back on 50 outside here and head west, you'll run through Sedalia, then take 65 north a ways and hop on H going west, and that'll take you to Georgetown. Here are your sandwiches. That'll be a dollar, please."

Wendy and I looked at each other with the open-mouthed Wile E. Coyote look.

More adventures later...

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Virtual Traveler: A Time Out of Step

Uh, this isn't where we're supposed to be
In keeping with my afterthoughty-type thoughts upon our return from our trip, refer to this post first:

Simple, oh so simple to slip sideways in space and/or time. We were heading towards Georgetown, KY on New Circle Road (some call it Circle 4), it the sun was just coming up, as I looked out my window (Wendy was driving), and we hit a little road construction. Nothing unusual about that. The road crews aren't happy around here unless they're constructing, although it occasionally requires a wee bit of deconstruction prior to or even during the construction.

About a half mile before the Georgetown Road exit (Exit 8, I believe), the sun seemed to shift in the sky slightly, and Wendy asked, "Uh, honey, have they added a new exit to New Circle?" I looked and saw what I figured was a brand new exit for Georgetown, with no exit number. All it said was "To Georgetown". I figured it must be a new way to get there, so I said, "Not that I'm aware of, but let's take it anyway. Says it goes to Georgetown."

We were in an adventurous mood that day, glanced at me, smiled, and said, "Sounds good. Let's see what happens."

Beautiful thing about it was there was no traffic. Once we took the exit and turned on the main road, also marked "To Georgetown", there was no one. No one begging for handouts at the exit, no other cars. Just an old store that said "Cindy's".

That's all for now. The adventure shall continue later...

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dear Earth Non-Readers

Greetings, Earthers, Darth here from a galaxy far, far away. Well, I see you're still doing it--banning books, that is. Good for you. That's the way to keep the Emperor strong.

I have, however, sensed a disturbance in the Force. Unfortunately, there are some of you who seek to challenge the banning of books. You rebel scum. You do not realize the power of the Dark Side. Here is a list of the underground organizations we are targeting. So, be forewarned. We will find you. And, to the author of this blog, we know who you are. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Afterthoughts Before the Next Adventure

Did my smartphone steal my old camera's soul? Nah, the T70 is powerful in the Film.
Back home again, and getting back to our routines, sorting through photos, and preparing for whatever comes next.

A few comments about using a smartphone for photography: it's generally easy, as easy as using my old CanonT70 that I purchased a couple of years ago (okay, more than a couple of years...); it's fairly quick, as long as I don't fat-finger the touch-screen controls; it's cheaper than using my old T70--I took almost 400 photos on this trip, some of them duplicates, of course; I can review some of the shots I just took and delete the Oopses, i.e., shots of my thumb, the ground, my feet, or the horrible selfies when I didn't realize I was taking a selfie.

All that being said, it makes me want to pull out the old T70 and get her cleaned up, load her up with film, and have fun. I miss the days of setting aperture and exposure, and focusing. And yes, if I took 400 shots with my T70, it would cost a small fortune. But there's one thing in particular I miss about it. I had a camera strap on the beastie. So, even though the sucker was heavy and banged against me when I climbed over stuff, or huffed and puffed up a hill, it left my hands free. With the smartphone I either carried it in my hand or had to dig it out of a pocket. Then I had to swipe across the screen to get it fired up.

Perhaps next trip I'll pack both cameras. Just have to make sure the one is charged and the other has film.

At any rate, I'm wondering where we'll head off to next. One thing I learned is that it's easy to write when you're traveling. New stuff to see, think about, do. And I had so much fun with it that, I'm thinking about continuing my travel writing on my blog, at least occasionally, with some virtual trips.

What I'm thinking is this: using home base as my starting point, I may pen some posts where I travel to other places, both real and imaginary, all from the comfort and safety of my desk. I'll give it a shot and see how it goes. So, if you read about me journeying to Everest, or Mars, or the ocean depths, or perhaps back in time along old Route 66, that's what I'm doing.

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Someplace and Back Again, or The Well-Worn Map

How'd we end up in Maine?

I didn't want to infringe on Mr. Tolkien, so I changed the post title slightly. Also, it captures some of the karma of our trip. We laugh about how sometimes we had no idea what state we were in. Who knew we could zip across Vermont so quickly?

Made it back home around 10 last night. Wendy did most of the driving, me as Chekov or Sulu (still don't remember which was navigator). We made a good team that way. Well, except for the time a couple of days ago when I got us a tad bit bewildered (we weren't lost) somewhere in the Catskills. I had us zigging when we should've zagged, but oh, well, with the aid of a nice fellow in a truck we found our way back to highway 55.

These next couple of posts will be recaps and recollections of our journey, and I'll try really hard not to bore you folks. It might not be sequential (gasp!), but I'll try to tie location to date so you have an idea of where we were when, and hopefully that will tell you our weird, wonderful, and winding route.

It was a little strange yesterday coming home through Ohio after spending over a week in the mountains and forests of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, especially as we wanted to make it back home last night. Funny thing. Once a trip is over, you know it, and it's time to get home. Plus, we wanted to get back to our home, our stuff, and our babies (Barley and Guinness). We had missed them.

We did get to have breakfast yesterday morning before lighting out at a great local restaurant called Phil & Cindy's in Falconer, NY. The geotag on my photo says it's Jamestown, NY, but I don't think that's correct. Also, their sign says lunch, but they do a whopping fantastic breakfast, too, opening, I believe, at 5:30 AM. Good, standard diner food, and some of the friendliest folks working in the place we've met. We've met a lot of nice folks along the way, but the ladies in Phil & Cindy's were interested in our trip, and were just wonderful.

More later.

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sure, Blue Sinks Match With Knotty Pine

I can't explain it, but I've always had this thing about the old knotty pine look. Makes me nostalgic, I think. So, it was perfect that last night we found lodging at the Red Ranch Motel in Catskill, NY, right on the edge of the Catskills.

It was starting to get late last night, and we were heading into the Catskills when I wondered whether or not we'd find a place for the evening. I happened to see a sign for the Red Ranch, noticed it had the AAA good hostelling seal of approval, so we decided to check it out. Good thing we did. It was perfect in a kitschy way.

It was quiet, with signs outside the doors that said to hold the noise down after 10 PM. I like seeing signs like that, especially in strip motels. We walked in the room and were greeted by knotty pine walls, fake stone walls, and cream-blue sinks. Made me think back to days when I went on vacation with my folks--I always had to bug my dad for a quarter for the "Magic Fingers" bed. Don't know if any of the old motels still have those.

One of the best things about the Red Ranch was that it was next door to Angela's Italian Bistro & Brewery. That meant once we unloaded our stuff in our room, we could walk over and have a good meal. No more driving for the day. Wendy had the angel hair pasta with meatballs, and I had the small calzone, which turned out to be the size of a football. Glad I didn't order the large.

Didja notice the part about Angela's being a brewery? Yep. Wendy had a Kiskatom Brown Ale, a nut brown ale with a hint of walnuts. I had the Bare Knuckle Black Lager, mainly because I liked the name. Good and potent.

Time to shut down for the night. More tomorrow.

Keep writing, friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Don't Know What an Egg Creme is, But I'll Have to Try It

They're altogether ooky
That's part of the fun of a diner tour like this one--trying different local specialties. Like a chocolate egg creme drink at our last diner for the day. What the heck is that, you may ask. Well, it has egg in it (as far as I know, because in my exuberance to order it, I forgot to ask about all the ingredients), chocolate flavoring, and kind of a fizzy aspect to it.

Okay, ignore some of what I just said. No egg creme in the egg creme recipe I just now looked up online. It's milk, carbonated water (hence the fizz I detected), chocolate syrup, and milk. How can it be called an egg creme without egg or creme (or cream)? Oh, well, moving on. So, just so you folks know. When you order an egg creme, no egg, no creme.

Awoke this morning in our room at The Putney Inn, in Putney, VT. I checked. We definitely started off the day in Vermont. Comfortable, relatively inexpensive place to stay (under 100 bucks) for the area, and quite. Almost disturbingly quiet. There were only two other cars in the parking lot this morning. But it turned out to be a nice place. Just not a high-traffic area.

We ran up to Bellows Falls, Vermont (Google Maps says it's an incorporated village in the town of Rockingham, Vermont--that's too much for me, so I just say we went to Bellows Falls), for breakfast, at Miss Bellows Falls. Like salmon returning home, that was one of the diners Wendy and I went to on our first Vermont trip back a few years ago, so we had to go there. Old classic diner, but it needs a little repair. The sign as I remember it (with my unreliable memory) was brighter. Now the name's faded. The food's still good, though. French toast and coffee, then time to hit the road.

A few pics of Miss Bellows Falls:

Before I continue, got to mention something the photo at the top of my post. A good friend of mine posted a pic of this old place on Facebook, and said we needed to check it out.

So we did.

This is an old inn in Bennington, VT, called the Walloomsac Inn. This pic is how it appears as of today. One person lives in there presently, and he (or she) won't let the city of Bennington paint the place for free, or let one of the original owners' descendants purchase it. It's hard to see from any angle as trees have grown up around it. Built in 1771, I believe, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison stayed in it in its heyday. You can't get in to see it, but we took pics from the street. When you get close enough to see it, it just looks like a rundown old inn, not like a cool Addams family house. Still neat to see, though. I'll have more info as I turn it up.

Think I better cut this post short and continue with more stuff in another post. Don't want to give everyone info-load.

Keep writing, friends.

Monday, September 19, 2016

There's a Bookstore All the Way Out Here?

Pulling in for breakfast at the Peterborough Diner
Inside the Peterborough, where the magic happens
We woke up this morning in need of coffee and headed for the Peterborough Diner, another classic dining car diner from the 50s. Here's a link to their site:

Of course, we did the tourist thing of taking lots of smartphone photos of the outside, the inside, and the required shots of us drinking coffee. Once again, good diner breakfast. We've learned not to order too large of a breakfast as these diners are dotted all over New Hampshire and Vermont, can't fill up too much first thing or there won't be room later on for burgers, reubens, or whatever specialty they serve up.

Breakfast was good at the Peterborough, with the best being the home fries. They had some spice on there that made them a little interesting.

Charley, our host at the Jack Daniels Motor Inn (where we stayed last night), told us about another diner, dang him, on the way to our next stop. Problem was it was only a few minutes away, so all we could have was coffee. This was the Hometown Diner in Rindge, NH, along Hwy 202.
Great cup of Joe at the Hometown

Scooting along NH-119, we found a cool bookstore full of all kinds of treasures, called Bequeart Old Books, in Fitzwilliam, NH. Oh, yes, and we dropped a dollar or two in there. Couldn't pass it up.
Okay, I'll go in and look, but I won't buy anything

Yeah, right
Needless to say, we walked out with two armloads of books.

Along the way to our rest stop tonight in Putney, VT (I think it's Vermont), we ran up highway 10 chasing down covered  bridges. They stayed put, so we had no trouble tracking them. Here's one:
It's safe to drive across, right?
That's it for the evening. More tomorrow along the road as we head toward Miss Bellows Falls and the Blue Benn Diner.

Previous days' posts:

Keep writing, friends.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Where the Hekawi?

A room with a view

Did it again today. I forgot we slipped across the border into Maine. Sure does look like New Hampshire.

Ate a late lunch/early supper yesterday (September 17th) at the Salt Marsh Clam Shack. Fantastic lobster rolls and fries. Located on US-1, it was just down the street from our motel, a Microtel, we hit it again this morning. Breakfast was decent, the best thing being the sweet potato hash, a delicious medley of stuff with a little bit of heat in there.
And breakfast, too. Lobster bennie, anyone?

Our mission today, which we chose to accept: make our way (me as navigator, Wendy as driver--I go back and forth between map and GPS. Sometimes I just have to go electronic.) through Portsmouth, NH to take a boat tour with the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company (although I think our boat was diesel) over to Star Island, one of the islands among the Isles of Shoals, right off New Hampshire's coast. This is where Wendy's Currier ancestors first settled, on this little island. A Jeffrey Currier was born on the island back in 1635. The picture at the top of my post is of the Oceanic House. Once upon a time, creatives such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Childe Hassam stayed on the island, perhaps penning away at their next works.

Afterwards our tour, we hightailed it out of Portsmouth, as it's a little busier than we care for. So, once again, Wendy at the wheel, me as Sulu (or Chekov, I forget who did the steering), we headed down I-95, making our escape, then it was back on some two-laners, including sections of 111 and 101A. Sadly, we had to eat at MacAttack tonight, as it's Sunday, and our beloved diners either weren't nearby or were closed for the evening. Found this great little inn in Peterborough, NH, for the night, however, called the Jack Daniels Motor Inn.

Tomorrow, we plan on breakfast at the Peterborough Diner, aptly named enough.

If you want to see previous road trip reports:

Keep writing, friends.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I'm Not Kay, I'm Pam

Okey dokey. I said I was gonna connect the dots some today, so here we go. Kay's Place Restaurant, that was our breakfast stop on September 14th this week. I don't remember now if that's where I had the buckwheat pancakes or not, but I remember it was a terrific breakfast.

Actually, our whole trip has been full of fantastic breakfasts, and I'm definitely full of them.

First, I must add that I have a new skill to add to my resume, if I were so inclined to do a resume. Which I'm not. I can handle a motel room coffee maker with the best of them. You just need to make sure that you get the little coffee filter thingy squished well inside the container, otherwise coffee goes everywhere. Trust me, I know about these things. Here's a picture of a properly-inserted coffee filter thingy.
Anyway, back to Kay's Place. We asked our server if she was Kay, but no, she said, she was Pam. Don't know where Kay was.

After breakfast at Kay's, we back on I-90 to make some time as we wanted to get to Vermont by nightfall. We found out, though, that we couldn't do that, as New York is a whopping big state, and it doesn't look like New York City.

First, though, we had a thin slice of Pennsylvania to run through, still on I-90, which turned out to be a nice bit of road. Not too much traffic as we ran along the outskirts of Erie, Pennsylvania.

We got off on 20A, I believe it was, before Buffalo, New York, and headed east across the state, stopping off for lunch at the Old Erie restaurant in Weedsport. The town looked a bit dismal, but the Old Erie served a good haddock sandwich.

The rest of the day we alternated between two lane roads and I-90, grazing Syracuse, and entering the Adirondacks in the afternoon. Deer country. And turkeys in the road. Not the people kind, the bird kind.

Tomorrow I'll fill you in on the Keyes Pancake House in Old Forge, New York, where Wendy and I ate breakfast on the 15th, right in the middle of the Adirondacks.

For my previous posts on our road trip, here ya go:

Keep writing, friends.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wait! You Mean We're Not in Vermont? Sure Looks Like Vermont

Gonna need to backtrack a little here. At the moment we're sitting in our room at the Governor's Inn & Restaurant in Rochester, New Hampshire, not to be confused with Rochester, New York. We're just a few miles from the New Hampshire coast--and yes, New Hampshire does have a coast, just not a long stretch of one. Destination tomorrow? Portsmouth. No, not Maine or Oregon, but New Hampshire.

New Hampshire can be a confusing state, as we discovered this morning when we woke up and discovered we weren't staying a hotel in Lebanon, Vermont, but rather Lebanon, New Hampshire. So, we'll just wander around until we run into water, or the border patrol, then make our way back home.

We've still been meandering the two-lane roads, avoiding as much as possible the interstates. Lebanon, New Hampshire (not Vermont) has been our biggest city so far, and we made a quick exit this morning after breakfast at the Four Aces Diner, just a perfect local spot, packed full of great cooking aromas, fun stuff on the walls, and terrific food. Here's a photo of me, a little too hungry, waiting for some flapjacks.

They said I looked a bit thin, so they brought me extras. Actually, I had some of their homemade cinnamon raisin toast, eggs, bangers, and Tater Tots. Finally, a place that served Tater Tots. Oh, and here's Wendy checking out the Magic 8 Ball at the table to see if that would last me until lunchtime.

After some of the best coffee I've had so far, we headed east wandering around on highway 4, 11, and a gravel road or two, toward our lunch stop for the day, the Miss Wakefield Diner in Wakefield, New Hampshire.

Forgot to mention that we found a couple of cool old cemeteries, one with a lot of Curriers, but possibly not from Wendy's branch. More research will determine that.

Our lunch stop, for a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, was at the Miss Wakefield Diner. There was a giant moose out front, but no moose burgers. Wendy had a hot dog with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It apparently was as good as my food was. We're finding out that if we hit several diners in a day, we can't eat full meals. But sometimes we certainly are tempted.
Oh, yes, I still need to get back to the Country Club motel from two nights ago. That was when we were wandering through the Adirondacks. Here's a photo of our motel, a beautiful little place that was perfect, complete with deer in the yard the next morning. No moose, though.

Okay, tomorrow, I promise, I'll connect the dots and get you folks connected from Old Forge, New York, where our Country Club motel was, up to where we grazed the Canadian border, then ran down through Burlington, Vermont.

That's all for now.

Keep writing, friends.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Diners, Deer, But No Moose

Didn't see Kay, but we saw Pam
 Honey, everyone else is doing the sortie thing. Shouldn't we sortie now? More on that later.
Picking up from where I left off yesterday. The days run together now with the miles. After we slipped through the gravitational fields of Akron and Cleveland, we found lodging at a Hampton Inn along I-90. That evening we found a great local pizza place called Capps Pizza near our hotel. Got a helluva good deal on two small veggie pizzas for 12.99. That never happens anywhere, not for that price. There were at least six kinds of veggies on those beasts, including banana peppers. I love banana peppers.

So, where was I? Problem with a running travel diary like this is we're looking around at stuff and talking about it, but not writing it down at the time. Until now. So, back to Kay's. Great place for breakfast--eggs, hash browns, rye toast, and terrific Vermont coffee. I guess Vermont spreads their coffee around, and they should. Pancakes were good at Kay's, too, with pure maple syrup. Not sure if it was from Vermont, though.

The rest of Wednesday we skipped along the edge of Lake Erie, which didn't take too long. Just about a two hour, at most, stretch of Pennsylvania to go through before we entered New York, with our plan, once again, to miss bigger cities, like Buffalo. We skipped east along some two-laners after crossing the New York border, but grew tired of some of the 45 mph limits, so we hopped back on I-90 to make some time. Our next destination? The Adirondacks.

Have I mentioned that New York is a big state? Well, it's a big state. And the good thing is, there's a lot of beautiful country to see, none of which looks at all like NYC. Not that I have anything against NYC, it's just that this trip is for smaller cities.

We knew it'd be some time before we escaped into the Adirondacks, so we grabbed a quick lunch at Old Erie, a local restaurant in Weedsport, NY. Great broiled haddock there. The town looked as though it'd seen better days, but the lunch was great.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I tell you about the Country Club motel, an immaculate, simple little strip motel that dates back at least to the 1950s, and our drive up north to spitting distance of Canada. Didn't have our passports, so we headed to Vermont.

Keep writing, friends.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vermont Bound by Way of Yellow Springs

Fried bologna, anyone?

Here we are, finally taking my retirement trip in search of Vermont and New Hampshire diners, and whatever else falls on our plates along the way. Also getting some writing time in, too.

We began our trek yesterday morning, a Tuesday, stopping off for a good breakfast at the Jerry's Restaurant in Paris, Kentucky, one of the few remaining Jerry's in the area. Just good, reliable diner food--eggs, toast, hash browns, and good coffee, before two-laneing our way on highway 68 to Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Yellow Springs is a great little pocket of old-school hippieness, with lots of veggie and tofu-like restaurants, and some really cool new age shops. Always have to check out Dark Star Books & Comics and see Mr. Eko, the resident bookstore cat, who I suspect also runs the operation. We wanted to overnight at the Springs Motel, a wonderful little strip motel, but they had no vacancies, so we pushed on.

Lunchtime was at Ye Olde Trail Tavern in Yellow Springs, with one of the best fried bologna sandwiches I've had in a while. Oh, did I mention that this is a low-cal trip?

The rest of the day, yesterday, we alternated between two-lane highways where we could take our time and wander through some of the small farm communities, and I-71 followed by I-271, which ran between Cleveland and Akron. It was amazing. We never had a terrible amount of traffic, even threading the needle between Cleveland and Akron. I used to drive worse traffic during rush hour heading home from Frankfort to Lexington, KY.

Well, more later, folks. Tomorrow I'll tell you about Kay's Place Restaurant, another little gem.

Keep writing, friends.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Is a Demonym a Really Evil Synonym?

Hey, Look! It's Merlin!

A long time ago, in a dictionary far, far away, the Oxford English Dictionary arose, in 1857. Well, okay, it didn't just pop out then--that work took several years. But the Philological Society (no, it's not a society dedicated to guys named Phil; it's a group of folks who study language's origins) decided there were way too many dictionaries, and on one could agree on what's what, so they said, "Hey! Let's get the Oxford University Press together with James A. H. Murray (white-bearded, really smart lexicographer), and get this mess straightened out." And, Voila! The New English Dictionary was born, which became the Oxford English Dictionary.

Which brings me to some new words added to the OED in June of this year. They do updates every March, June, September, and December. Let's take a look:

  • Air punch: That's when you do that punch upward into the air, in an act of victory or celebration. Probably got started with Hunger Games, although air punches have been around for a long time. We just haven't been calling them that.
  • Demonym: A supposedly-catchy name for people who live in a certain region. For example, uses this example:
    "Two demonyms for the residents of Michigan are Michigander and Michiganian." I don't know why they can't just say "residents of Michigan", but then, I'm not a lexicographerander.
  • Long trousers: Okay, I don't see the need for this one at all. The definition is: "trousers reaching to the foot." To me, that's just...trousers.
  • Sneakerhead: Someone who knows a whole heckuva lot about sneakers. Guess that's better than being an airhead.
  • Supercouple: Also known as a "power couple", that's a couple who are high-powered, influential celebrities. Perhaps we'll eventually get a definition for "stuporcouple".
And, there you have it. That's just a few of the new words added in June. Your assignment: make a sentence out of the new words, then do an air punch.

Keep writing, friends.