Renewing acquaintances, part 10

On the way back to home base after a couple of weeks away, we had overnight stops (and plenty of conversation), one night with a pastor of Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Livingston, New Jersey, another  with friends in Hagerstown, Maryland, friends who moved there from a town near us, another with a long-time friend in Franklin, Indiana, (Janine babysat for her kids), the last with Janine’s sister and our daughter in Iowa City.

When we hit Highway 20 on the last day, we knew we were on the home stretch.

Losing the key to the locking cable for our bicycles waited until we weren’t planning on riding. That was lucky. Back home and one snip from a bolt cutter, and that problem was solved.

Renewing acquaintances, part nine

Our niece and her husband put us up for a several nights at their home in Griggstown, New Jersey. He’s a pastor. Their pup Pilgrm, a miniature Australian shepherd, helped welcome, enthusiastically so (So, what do I look like, Pilgrim? A sheep?).

While enjoying their hospitality, we visited Princeton (taking a tour that would delight anyone who loves highfalutin’ names and shameless cheerleading about liberal arts education from a exponentially-endowed Ivy-League university).

Janine picked up a rather large splinter walking barefoot (a pretty logical outcome, right?) on the Asbury park boardwalk [literally] on the Jersey shore.

Thanks to our hosts’ medical supplies and equipment and my insensitive way of yanking splinters, minor surgery ended the threat of a limp for the rest of the trip.

We were driven (confidently, not the passive tense) to a community theater performance of Mary Poppins for an evening’s entertainment. Our niece had it worked out so we got to the outdoor theater to plant four lawn chairs in great spots, were able to walk to a great restaurant, where I ate far too much, than waddle back to take our seats for the outdoor performance.

Community theater can be a quality experience. And, yes, Mary Poppins and Bert “flew” in this performance. Even without the special effects, its a great chestnut of a musical.

Renewing acquaintances, part eight

In our short stay at Peas Eddy, Janine and I and our hosts took advantage of the eddies on the Upper Delaware pool, inexpertly paddling about in kayaks and canoes (more conversation, too!).

There are no motorized crafts allowed, so that took one variable out of watercraft. Paddling up against a placid current was work enough to make the paddler feel good about making progress against it. And the trip back was placid, drifting where the water willed.

Particularly fun was finding a place where the river bottom shallowed enough to partially divert the current, sending you around a swirl, a gentle, natural merry-go-round.

Looking into the shallows was entertaining, too. I spotted a pair of fishing pliers that some boating angler had either lost or didn’t care that it was gone.

A trip highlight? ( This may seem weird, but this is me being honest.)

The next stage of our ramblings involved Sunday-morning driving on practically deserted eastern, winding, GPS-confusing two-way roads, listening to a water-powered radio station playing the entire Moody Blues album Days of Future Passed. (‘Nuff said. Somebody out there will sigh reading this.)

It was so much fun singing along.

Renewing acquaintances, part seven

Our New Jersey friends  invited us to Peas Eddy, New York, for a spell along a pool of the upper Delaware River.

Getting there was an adventure, given the inevitable traffic and delays caused by construction and traffic accidents. It had been awhile since I have driven in such traffic. Statistically speaking, it was surprising there weren’t more collisions. The potential was certainly there.

Fortunately, we weren’t the cause of any delays, but an intended side trip to Bethel Woods Woodstock museum didn’t materialize, thanks to a flat tire.

That’s another tale.

The tire-indicator light picked this trip to be flaky. It lit up four times.

The first time, I dutifully got out and checked the tires. Each was inflated to pressure.

The second time, I ignored the light; it was telling the truth. The ride got weird. Turns out, we were nearly riding on the rim of a back tire before discovery.

Thanks to a good Samaritan at a Dunkin Donuts, we figured out the jack, lowered the dusty doughnut tire (first time for this boy on this car for a tire change), changed tires and got sent on our way.

Stopped at a tire store, seventh in line, found out the tire was not repairable (That hurt. We had just put four new skins on the car before we left.) but were on our way again two-and-a-half hours later.

We got to Peas Eddy (those old names are so engaging!) much later than we planned and skipped a nearby Santana concert because we were pooped. (Oh, to have the stamina of a 20-year-old!)

Needless to say, I stopped after the third and fourth notification by the indicator to make sure the tires were aired up.

Renewing acquaintances, part six

If you visit Paterson, New Jersey, have a former or present resident take you around town. In our case, our guide is a long-time friend who drove us and walked us around his former digs.

The city may have seen better days, but there is stuff worth seeing, a National Parks Service site preserving Paterson Falls, a pioneer manufacturing site dating back to Alexander Hamilton’s time (second largest volume of water east of the Mississippi after Niagra Falls). Hamilton and crew saw the potential of the power of falling water for industry.

As the area developed, races were constructed to direct the waters past mill wheels. A few of those races are being restored.

A museum reminds that Paterson is also a site of submarine pioneering, Colt firearms production, textile production, water powered industry and Pratt and Whitney aircraft engine production (one of the three biggest manufacturers of plane engines in World War II. Charles Lindbergh used an engine manufactured by the company for his trans-Atlantic flight, a lighter-weight aluminum motor).

And, the falls. What a sight. We were alerted that we’d see a rainbow in the mist rising from the falling water. We did, although my camera didn’t catch it. We’re standing on the bridge, the best vantage point for viewing.


Our guide also found a story in the New York Times extolling Paterson. Writer Helene Stapinski does a fine job helping bring the city to our attention.

Renewing acquaintances, part five

We were encouraged to drive into New York City for one day.

It wasn’t a hard drive, they said. You’ll do fine, they said.

We survived.… Yup, two country bumpkins in a Dodge trying to navigate with a digital assistant confused by the ever-changing traffic patterns on the George Washington Bridge. That is material for a comedy sketch, for sure.

“You want me to do what?” was an oft-repeated question.

But, the visit to The Cloisters museum and a short bike ride along the Hudson was worth it.

The museum was built during the Depression, and construction included incorporating portions of medieval structures. It was an intriguing concept, and it works well.


The parapet of The Cloisters overlooking the Hudson was a a delight.

Think of it, a medieval-styled building constructed as a public works project during the Depression erected on a portion of land donated by a very rich family exhibiting Gothic artifacts. Made my head spin when I wasn’t goggling at tapestries that had been used to cover potatoes.

(Turns out art aficionados after the Gothic period considered the works we admired as barbaric. To quote one of my favorite authors: “Go figure.”)

Renewing acquaintances, part four

The musical our quartet was able to witness deserves mention in a separate entry. It’s that good. (And, I can see our Orange City thespians presenting it in a future Tulip Festival night show).

Come From Away celebrates the confusions of 7,000 air travelers forced from the skies by the events of 9/11 at a once-bustling airfield in a small town in Newfoundland. The deplaned travelers and just-as-confused townsfolk had to adjust, and the music, dialogue, comedy and pathos did a remarkable job of making it memorable.

Oh, and a packed house of New Yorkers didn’t hurt, either. That was a huge part of an unforgettable evening. The events of 9/11 weren’t far from their minds, and the packed house responded in all the right ways. The cast was obviously having a ball, and the encore was something to behold as the musicians stormed the stage to hoots of delight from the crowd.

The opening number “Welcome to the Rock” sets the scene perfectly. We were able to see this cast when we saw it in theater. Click here and then make plans to see it some time.

Renewing acquaintances, part three

Our two-day, 1,000-mile outbound drive ended in Glen Rock, New Jersey (via Ohio and Pennsylvania), where a former editor of my weekly and his wife have retired.

With that couple, we walked approximately 10 miles in New York City after a ferry ride into the city.


The memorial near the base of the Freedom Tower is a fundamental, sobering reminder of the perfidy of 2011 but a testament to the vitality of a city determined not to succumb to the evil of that day.


The memorial was so large in a space so confined, I could not get an adequate image. However, one could look up and see the new tower, complete with window washers.


We walked the The High Line, a park built on a freight rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. Lush vegetation and sculptures were everywhere..


A stop at the New York City Public Library was (of course) included in our tour.


I almost wish blimps could anchor on the Empire State Building. But, then, a photo would be hard to come by from street level.

A nearby Cuban restaurant let our sweaty quartet enjoy their food, and the day ended with a visit to the theater.  More on that in the next entry.

Renewing acquaintances, part two

Thanks to Janine’s navigation on our summer trip (I drove for all but 15 minutes in our two weeks away) we lived to tell the tale, in her case a 5,000-plus word diary (not counting jots in a dinky notebook, written when I wasn’t scaring her spitless with ill-advised lane changes). I’ll inflict an episode or two on you in the next few entries.

One of the three nights we didn’t spend with friends and family was the first one. Our Dodge Journey trundled onto a ferry at Marblehead, Ohio, for a quick trip to Kelleys Island on Lake Erie, the northern-most U.S. island to the southern-most Canadian island. (International phone charges could apply, if you weren’t careful.) We could see the tip of Ontario from there.

Before turning in at our bed-and-breakfast, we took a 12-mile ride around the island, stopping at a nature  preserve on the pretty-much-rocky island and stopping at another site which protects an impressive set of glacial grooves.


Glaciers may creep by but they ground large boulders against the rock below, creating  some pretty impressive grooves.

We watched the sun dip into the horizon from a rocky spit and chowed down on lobster chowder and fish tacos.


Another thing I notice, this related to (I think) the sensor in my phone. As the sun set and I took image after image, it appeared the orb was higher on the horizon in the image than in my eye. Interesting. I think the sensor captures a different set of light rays than my eye. I’d be interested in an explanation.

More on the trip in the next entry.