Closed For Repair

 

Turning 60 Years Old

I was surprised when I made it to 30.

Then at 42 the speculation became would I make it to 50.

Here I am and off to celebrate the first 60 years with a road trip.

I recognize that this is totally self indulgent but I am going to take anyone who wants to come along...

My faithful dog Buddy 3 will be my traveling companion.

The itinerary became somewhat altered because of early time delays.

By the time I reached the halfway point, I had shot over 100 photos so the photos displayed are my personal favorites.

 

Getting Ready

 

 

My Traveling partner Buddy III

 

 

Philadelphia, PA - Part One

The trip got off to a rocky start... Holiday Weekend, heavy traffic and the usual 5 hour ride to Philadelphia took 8 hours. My arrival in Philadelphia was greeted with 2 feet of unplowed snow in the streets. Talk about a challenge.  My poor car could barely navigate the streets. Parking is always a nightmare and parking in a garage was the only option. My hostess in Philadelphia was Lisa, former significant other of Eric and mother of Arielle. Thank you again Arielle for letting me sleep in your bedroom. I do love your decorating skills.

Philly at Night

Lisa

Philly at Night 2

Washington, DC - Part One

Next stop on the trip was Washington, DC. My nephew Andrew is a student at Georgetown University. Like Philadelphia, Washington had a  couple of feet of snow blocking the streets. Unlike Philadelphia, DC's approach was to shut everything down, plow the main streets and leave the sides streets to nature. Sometime this spring, Washington should be fully navigable. My GPS was useless, every street I needed to use was just unplowed and the cars sat on the streets unmoved or cleared off. I was supposed to arrive in time to take my nephew and his friend Brie out for lunch. Instead I arrived around 4 PM and we had an early dinner.

Brie and Andrew

The trip from Washington south included a one night hotel stay in Virginia, stops for cigarettes and supplies for the trip No photo record exists of me shopping at various discount cigarette retailers and my eternal search for an exotic hand tooled belt to hold up my pants. I have several clients that claim they had seen the type of belt I am searching for in various truck stops. I checked out every stop I know they go to without success.

The South

The Southern part of this country has always held a fascination for me that I cannot explain. I remember as a little boy of 8 traveling with my parents to Washington, DC and northern Virginia. The love affair began at that point. Sitting in a restaurant in Alexandria, VA and seeing black people for the first time up close and personal, I had only seen them on television. Listening to the language of the South made me want to adopt their version of the English language. The lilt of a Southern accent intrigued the hell out of me. In college I was fortunate to meet several Southerners and I then had an excuse to travel south. At one point I had a girlfriend from Atlanta, GA who attended the University of South Carolina. I visited as often as I could afford the replacement of the engines of the Volkswagen bugs that I would drive down to see her. The drive was a killer on those old air cooled engines. In spite of this love of everything Southern, there was one thing I could never understand... The ubiquitous Waffle House chain of restaurants. I had tried in the past to eat the food at a Waffle House but was turned off by the amount grease and use of margarine or similar oil based spread instead of butter. This trip I figured it was time to give them another try. The biscuits with grape jelly hooked me then I stepped up to having grilled ham on a biscuit. My final meal south of Washington occurred at a Waffle House in Roanoke Rapids, NC. The waitresses were busy, so I started watching the cook. I noticed that he oiled the pan, dumped the oil out and then put the eggs in the pan. When it comes to food, I can be brave... I ordered eggs scrambled with cheese and a biscuit. Food to die for... only 500 miles away.

Savannah, Georgia

Favorite cities in no particular order are: Boston, London, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago and Savannah. Drop me in any of these cities and I instantly feel at home. Savannah is the embodiment of Southern charm, warmth and sophistication. It is a city that has felt like home since I first went there when I was in my early 20's.  Several years ago, friends Carol and Tim McCusker introduced me to Tybee Island off the coast of Savannah, that just sweetened the city for me.

The city has two levels. The top level is tree lined and loaded with elegant buildings dating from the 1720's mixed with more modern structures. Similar to Boston and Philadelphia, the old coexists with the new. It is a city of small squares of grass, trees and monuments. Museums, art and history are found in every corner of the city proper. Just below the top level of the city proper is the lower working level of city that was and is a major port., the River Walk.

The City Proper

 

Johnson Square

City Hall

The Cotton Exchange

Christ Church

Washington Guns

The River Walk

View From the River Road to River Walk Footbridge Slavery Statue Bridge to S. Carolina

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island is an island located 10 miles from Downtown Savannah. It's proximity to the hustle and bustle of the city make it a delightful refuge. Beautiful beach with just the right amount             development that make it very attractive. All the pleasures of a seaside resort within a few minutes of a major metropolitan area. Similar to Chicago with the lake shore beach along Lake Michigan.

Tybee Beach Hurricane Sensitivity Tybee Island Light Tybee Island Pier Tybee Island Shore

The Mighty 8th Air Force Museum 

Pooler, Georgia

I drove by this museum several times before finally making the stop. The 8th Air Force was the determining factor in the outcome of World War II. Many of the museum staff are veterans of the war. Their numbers are diminishing everyday that goes by. These heroes walk you through the exhibits and give you first hand accounts of their experiences making those harrowing bombing runs over Europe. In a addition to the museum displays is a garden that has monuments to every Air Force bomber group that participated in both the European and Asian theaters of World War II.

B-17 Garden Stain Glass B-24 Memorial Chapel

Saint Augustine, Florida

My first day in Saint Augustine was spent touring the area known as Saint Augustine Beach. Big mistake. The run down honky tonk feel and abandoned half built condominium development in the beach area caused me to re-think my choice of Saint Augustine as a destination. Day two I ventured into the Historic section of the city. That is where the city made an impression.

The oldest continuous settlement in the New World. The Spanish landed here in 1565, well before the English settlements in Roanoke, VA and Pilgrims landing in Plymouth, MA. The Spanish fought the American Indians, the French and the English. Everyone took a shot at taking the city. The fort is a testament to the Spanish intent to hold onto this valuable foothold in North America. At one time the fort was surrounded by a moat to discourage incursions by hostile forces. Remnants  of the embattled history of the city are found throughout the city. Cannon emplacements in the local open air market are a constant reminder of the city's past. The fort's design is reminiscent of the Alamo in San Antonio.

St. Augustine Light Spanish Flag Fort San Marcos Ponce de Leon

Fort San Marcos

The first line of defense for the Spanish foothold in the New World. Constructed in 1672 was the final replacement for the wooden forts initially constructed on the site. The placement of the fort was designed to protect the city from both sea and land based attacks.

North Side Approach Draw Bridge over Moat Fort Courtyard South Side Approach Small Cannon

Historic District of Saint Augustine

The walking tour of the Historic section of the city gave me a whole new feel for the city. The Catholic Spanish influence is everywhere. First Catholic Church in North America, an eventual tolerance of the native Americans that preceded the Spanish. Time was too short to see all the "firsts" found in the city. I spent most of the time photographing the work of Henry Flagler and others who reconstructed the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The financier and Florida icon Henry Flagler constructed hotels and buildings in the style of his Spanish predecessors. Flagler College dominates the city in addition to the prestigious retail and financial institutions that serve the residents of Saint Augustine.

Flagler College Occupies Most of the buildings in the Historic District

The Road Back Home to New England

Roanoke Rapids, NC

Thursday the old adage, what comes around goes around hit me today. I was checking into my hotel in Roanoke Rapids, NC and I was approached by a couple obviously in desperate need. They appeared to be in their mid 20's and were standing outside the hotel begging for $11.50 to pay for a hotel room. The woman was crying and the man had desperation written all over his face. Their story was that their car broke down on the highway and had been towed by the police. The towing charge wiped out the little cash they had. They were waiting for the woman's father to arrive from West Virginia in the morning to pick them up.

The last time I met anyone from West Virginia was in 1968. My friend Peter Michaud and I had driven to visit one of our friends from prep school attending college at Washington and Lee University in western Virginia. On our way back in my 1963 Ford Falcon, the radiator blew in West Virginia on Interstate 81.  We limped into a gas station leaving a trail of steam. The man at the gas station said we needed a new radiator. There was no way we could afford that kind of repair. The mechanic said we might be able to make it with radiator patch. He gave us several containers of patch for nothing. We thanked him and he said " I would hope someone would help my college age son the same way." As we were leaving, the mechanic gave me his card and told me to call him if we broke down before leaving the state. He said he would come get us and we could work out something. That kindness has stuck with me all my life. I finally had an opportunity to repay that kindness by giving that couple from West Virginia the $11.50 plus enough for them to get something to eat.

Washington, DC - Part Two

Men and women of a certain age (mine) have the shared experience of the Vietnam War. Regardless of how you felt about the war, your life was shaped in some way by the conflict in Southeast Asia.  Most of you know my story of how I avoided the draft and the direction my life took because of the decisions I made. My heart will always be with the men and their families from my home town of Walpole that were killed in action in Vietnam. One stop I always make is to the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. I feel we owe them. I personally knew all four men killed in Vietnam from Walpole and in particular two of them were my friends. Touching their names on the wall gives me a strange sense of comfort. With the possible exception of Brian Collins, all of the others were killed within 2 months of their arrival in Vietnam.

Richard (Charley) Drake    Panel 35E Line 68

Nick Conaxis    Panel 55E Line 7

Paul Fitzgibbons    Panel 59E Line 21

Brian Collins    Panel 44W Line 34

 

The Wall

Vietnam War Memorial Statue

 

Philadelphia, PA - Part Two

The last night on the road was spent celebrating the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath with Lisa and her daughter Arielle. I started my journey with a stop in Philadelphia and I was ending my trip the same way.  I want to thank them for welcoming me into their home and letting me participate in their religious ritual. After the meal we laughed and talked into the wee hours. The person that stopped there at the beginning of the trip was not the same person on the way home.

Arielle and Lisa

This vacation was my time. Driving and meeting old friends plus making new friends along the way brings me back to who I am. Before turning 60, before my marriage, before my divorce; my life was my own. I feel this trip was not a new beginning but a return to the person I am rather than the person I had become. It feels good to be back home.