May 14 to June 2
Dennis and Jennifer celebrate their arrival in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the beginning of some vacation time with a little Champagne after a grueling time of getting ready and traveling all the way across the country.
After two full weeks on the road, we’ve had more than our share of adventures, ups and downs. But we’re having an EXPERIENCE…full and lively every day. In reflection, we have had both predictable and unpredictable adjustments to make, and we’re probably going to continue our adjustments over the coming weeks, but we’re on our way.
Steffi is ready to go! Her belongings are all ready but her parents are not! Here she is testing out her new night blackout tent around her bed which is actually the dinette eating area.
The beginning of the trip was inauspicious. As one observer put it, "I guess you’ve gotten all the bad stuff out of the way first!" We reaped the bad fruit of having started our prep weeks later than we’d originally planned. I stopped working fully two weeks later than hoped, in an unfulfilled attempt to have a smooth transition to my successor. The pipe dream was unrealized when the person wasn’t hired until the day before I left! Denny had similar obstacles when his bank processor (the core supplier of his business) was sold a couple months prior to our leaving and announced totally new procedures and software…which didn’t work… three weeks prior to departure. Add to that broken phone connections with his sister’s operation (needed to transfer all our phone lines and processing) and he was working nights and weekends on OTHER activities. The result: we were hopelessly behind schedule to pack the house and leave, and had no buffer other than lost sleep to make up the difference.
After missing our ETD of 9 AM on Mothers’ Day by a cool 8 hours, we had the opportunity to avoid the tenants’ move in only by dumping most everything we owned in our own driveway separated from their boxes by a row of overflowing garbage cans. But we stopped at the pharmacy and Toys R Us for a Gameboy for Steph, and actually took our leave of Denver a little before 6 PM. We made it out of the state, but barely.
The next day, a quick trip across Nebraska turned unending thanks to 40 knot crosswinds—exhausting in a "high profile vehicle"—putting our average speed somewhere around 50 for a 350 mile trip. We had only enough time to say "I wish it were more" to a friend in Lincoln, see Denny’s family homes in Avoca and Weeping Water, and hustle on to Marshalltown, arriving about 10:30. Too late for enjoying our friends’ hospitality but early enough to swap a few tales and hugs and hit the hay, exhausted still. A highlight was touring Jennifer's family home, now owned by a family busily restoring its original polish and upgrading fixtures, but the beautiful site, view and family lore was wonderful to revisit, perhaps giving D & S new perspectives on the mom.
The first picture is with our friend, Barb Hoppe, on a stop in Lincoln, Nebraska. The second is a picture of downtown (!) Avoca, Nebraska -- a town of around 200 people where Denny's Mom, Doris, grew up and graduated as valedictorian of her high school. The third picture is during our stay with friends, Dorothy and Pat Apgar, in Marshalltown, Iowa. At the right is a picture taken from Jennifer's old house in Marshalltown, Iowa showing the patio and large back lawn.
Two more days on the road brought us to Niagara Falls where we saw the American Falls for the first time and enjoyed a hike which put the view into perspective. The next day, we watched a boat go through the Lockport lock on the Erie Canal, enjoyed history there and in Historic Deerfield, MA, and then on to Northampton for my college reunion.
Here are Stephanie and Jennifer overlooking the American Falls side of Niagara Falls. Next is a picture of American Falls with the much larger Horseshoe Falls in Canada in the background. The third picture, of the locks on the Erie Canal in Lockport, NY, shows a tourist boat being lifted up to proceed west. Last is Jennifer and her former roommate, Tricia, at the formal entrance to Smith College. The gate is fancy, but is never used since it leads nowhere but to a busy street.
A few days in Northampton was a great, reflective experience, but for the first time in four reunions it rained constantly, with only enough break in the deluge for the parade and fireworks. Rain continued for a total of 7 continuous days, with cold "monsoon" weather and wind making shorts impossible. We saw the Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation in cool blustery weather and then had Memorial Day weekend on Cape Cod with broken sun and clouds. Much too cold for swimming (though the bay waters are warm), but warm enough for enjoying the local color, the National Seashore and world class people-watching (Provincetown is unrivaled). We even took in a Drive-In Movie last night!! Hope to find more of them. Our "home" site is about 10 yards from the beach, overlooking the boardwalk, thus it's windy, but scenic.
Here is a picture of the famous Plymouth (or Plimoth, if you prefer) Rock. It is on the sand, but is enclosed by the formal columns you see in the next picture. The rock has been moved many times, and has broken so it is smaller than when the Pilgrims landed and stepped on it. The next picture is of the Mayflower II, a close replica of the original.
Here are some pictures of the Plymouth Plantation, a replica of the original 1627 Pilgrim village in Plymouth (7 years after the original landing). Stephanie is testing the bedding, made of a straw mattress. There is a dirt floor. The children slept on a simple bag of straw on the dirt floor. Up to 9 people lived in each house, the size of which you see in the next picture. Many people in the Plantation play the roles of the original Pilgrims, speaking to you as they would in those days. Really fun! You see two women taking hay to feed the animals. Not only do they act their parts, but they have chores just like the real Pilgrims did, including planting, caring for animals, cooking and building homes.
Stephanie enjoys the Breakwater Beach tidal flats on Cape Cod. Dennis and Stephanie are getting their strength up to climb the 252 foot Pilgrim Tower in Provincetown. It was erected in 1907. The next beach is near Provincetown, a nice place, with really nice people of all descriptions. Lastly, here are Steffi and Denny getting ready for a drive-in movie, something that Denny and Jennifer haven't done for many years. Stephanie thought it was way cool. The fact that the movie was the Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas made it even more cool.
Steph has been finishing up fourth grade assignments. One packet was mailed back last week, and the remainder of her Poetry Book Share is completed today. It was a necessary compromise to the vacation plan, but I think she’s ready to matriculate next week! So far none of our three "cellular" phones work consistently. Everything worked in downtown Cleveland, our only major city to date, but unpredictable everywhere else. We’re keeping a log…but it is an imperfect world of communications, to say the least.
We plan another two days here and on Martha’s Vineyard, and then on to Newport, Tarrytown and NYC. We’re completing the "vacation" part of the launch and transitioning to the "school" portion by next week. After our difficult beginnings, it will probably be good to reestablish a routine of sorts so we can accomplish more and hassle less. Love to all…