US Road Trip 2017, Day 14.

Sunday in Smalltown USA was pretty quiet. I also woke up a little hungover, so it was extra quiet. 

Took a trip out to mom and dad’s that lasted most of the day. Had a nice talk with Pops will mom was coming home from church. I spent most of the day with them. 

On the way back into town, I stopped at Sergi’s Itialian Restaurant for dinner. I wanted to get my east coast pizza fix. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, best pizza outside Italy. 

From the pizza place back to the Elk’s Lodge to sign in and get a coke. One coke led to 3 Jameson on the rocks and a bunch of idle gossip. Good times, always good times. 

Good night all! 

The Raquette River, running through the village of Potsdam.

The Raquette River, below the dams. 

The BEST pizza! 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 13.

It’s interesting to leave a place you know well and then come back to it. At first everything is the same. Everything looks just like you left it. But then, as you look a little harder, you notice that things have changed.  Such is the case with my home town. 

I used this little village as the primary setting for my third novel. There are places where the characters in the story walk you around town. The description of the village is accurate on the surface, or it used to be. The streets are all the same, but other things have changed. 

One of the old car dealers is gone, building and all. What used to be a restaurant is now a bar. Some stores close and other stores open. It makes you a bit nostalgic for older days as you notice the changes.

Some things have not changed. Market Street is still Market Street, and Main is still Main. The traffic seems to go in the same direction as it did before, and all the big stone churches are still right where I left them. 

Something else that hasn’t changed is the memory of people. Case in point, I haven’t been into Foxy Roxy’s Diner for breakfast in quite some time. I walk in and Marcy just says “Toast or no toast?” I say no toast, and breakfast comes out just the way I always order it. Small towns are good! 

After a trip out to mom and dad’s to say hi to them and catch up with my brother Jeff, it was off on a road trip.  I’ve been wanting to drive through the Adirondacks since I got back up here, and it’s a bright and sunny day. 

I made my way up to Saranac Lake, and stopped for fuel. I attached the GoPro to the dash mount and headed out. The drive through Raybrook and into Lake Placid was excellent. Lake Placid, as expected, was overflowing with both traffic and people. The trip along route 73 from Lake Placid to Keene Valley was spectacular. The ADK was a sea of green, broken only by boulder strune ribbons of cascading blue. Every trailhead and parking pull off was at maximum capacity. Hikers were everywhere!

I stopped at The Mountaineer, in Keene Valley, to pick up a new ADK sticker for my truck. The Mountaineer is a great outfitter store, with a very nice staff. I don’t know if they have an online presence, but if you’re in the area I say check them out!

Following drive time was the infamous Hot Dog Party. My good friend Shona’s Tenth Anual Hot Dog Party was an absolute success! There was a big crowd and the dog selection was good. The vodka cake didn’t survive, and we drank the place out of mojitos. An outstanding time! It’s rumored that next year it will be referred to as WeinerFest on Walnut. I can’t wait! 

Considering the taxi, driven by my good friend Rick, dropped me off at 3:00am, this is the end of this tale. 

Route 73, south of Lake Placid, New York.

The ever-lovely Mrs. Truax and myself at the Hot Dog Party photo station.

The village at night. All quiet. 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 12. 

Sadly, today started with some work. I had to get the computer out and answer some work emails. It didn’t take long, but it emotionally pulled me from vacation mode for a few minutes. 

My excuse for work complete, I headed out to mom and dad’s to see what they were up to. Mom had to go volunteer at a Red Cross blood clinic and dad was mowing the yard.  I had a good conversation with them for as long as it lasted. 

I met one of my best childhood friends for lunch. It had been quite a while since I had seen Bob, so catching up was great. After I stopped to do some banking, and catch up with some more people. 

I drove around the village looking for an ADK sticker for my truck. After I stopped at the first place, every place I stopped tried to send me back to the first place. A little small town goose chase. 

Next, it was back to the Elk’s Lodge to help out with the stuff I volunteered for last night. Oh well, I always get roped into something while I’m home. It turned out to be fun. Everyone was joking around and making fun of each other. 

Not feeling the gumption to go out or to go eat, I decided on going to the movies. The movie theater in town, The Roxy Theater, shows a half a dozen different movies. I remember when it had one giant screen and showed one movie. That …… was a long time ago. 

The movie choice was Valarian. It was very good! Coming out of the theater, the sun was down. The Air was cooler and all around is quiet. There is some miscellaneous traffic, some people out walking the streets, and some people out at the outside bars, otherwise it’s quiet. I’m setting on the front porch of the Lodge watching the cars. 


The Lodge. 

Looking up the street. It’s always busy in this place. 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 11.

Woke to rain this morning. The north country has been getting rained on all summer, so I guess this is okay. My truck needed a bath anyway.

The day started with utilitarian activities, aka laundry. It’s a necessity of travel longer than a weekend getaway. Well, at least the way I pack it is. Which I guess leads to a question, how heavy do you pack? Do you run with the minimum or are you the three roller bags and a carry-on kind of packer? 

Personnally, I prefer minimalism. Anything under say, one week to maybe ten days, I will pack for the whole thing. Anything longer than that, I pack for a week and plan on doing laundry somewhere. US hotels, little French towns, German Guesthouses, downtown London, I’ve done laundry lots of places. I find there is usually a laundry around. Sometimes you have to track it down on a side street, but it’s usually there. 

I have found that I spend a lot of time on the move. Wether it be trains, Metros, planes, or on foot. There was a bicycle once, in Ireland, but we won’t get into that now. I tend to prefer lighter backpacks to clothing options. That’s just me, and it works for the way I do things. On a trip like this one, where I’m driving most everywhere, I really doesn’t matter if I overpack. I tend to pack the same amount anyway, because it’s habit. Do you stay the same, or do you switch up your packing when you travel?

After the laundry, it was out to see mom and dad. The parents appreciate some face time now and again. I spent the afternoon catching up with them. They were very happy. 

After mom and dad I was headed bank into town. I made my mandatory stop at the local Elk’s Lodge to sign in and say hello. As expected, everyone was happy to see me. With it being meeting night, the stop was longer than usual. 

All in all, a good day. 

The dryer is going round and round. 

Waiting on traffic in the big city. 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 10. 

Back on the road again. Today was another one of those Point A to Point B travel days. 

I left Bethesda heading north, opposite the flow of the morning rush hour, and made my way up to NY.  The run through all the historic places along route 15 in Maryland and Pensylania made me want to stop several times. The signs for Gettysburg also had me. But, I persevered. 

For the most part, the drive was nice. I love driving in the mountains. When you’re pulling a hill, and the V8 in the truck is whinning, and your ears pop, that’s when you know your in hill country. The run north through Pennsylvania and New York was all driving in the mountains. It was good. 

Clarification. The driving was good. The roads were horrendous. From the Northeast Extension in PA, pretty much all the way north on I-81 to Watertown, NY, was road construction. Pennsylvania had tore up Road being rebuilt. New York had miles of cones out at a time for some ditch job or ramp repaving job. It basically sucked bad. 

The green dense trees and the vertical change helped to make up for it. By the time I got into the ST Lawrence River Valley, I was okay again. 

I came north, or home I should say, to spend a couple days with my mom and dad, and hangout with friends. I’m sure it will be a good time. 

Rolling into the hometown of Potsdam, New York, I pulled up at my usual home away from home, The Northern Family Motel. I always stay here when I’m in town. The Motel is clean and neat, and the rates are super reasonable. They have a fabulous breakfast spread. They also have an awesome staff. Eric, the owner, is a high school friend of mine. I think he’d be offended if I stayed anywhere else at this point. Hahahaha. Seriously, if you’re passing through this way, you should give them a try. 

From the Motel, it was out of find food. As any local knows, the first stop is Jreck’s Subs. It’s a Northern New York institution. Ham and cheese on wheat, extra hot peppers. 

After food I stopped at the Local Elk’s Lodge (Lodge #2074) to sign in and see as many people as I could. It wasn’t a long commute, as the lodge is all of a good 100 feet around the corner from the sub shop. To get inside I had to ring the front door bell. I forgot my membership card in my bag. Inside, it was good and full as Wednesday night is dinner night at the lodge as well as Golf League night. I made the rounds and promised everyone I’d be back out tomorrow night. But it was a long drive, so I wasn’t gonna start the party just yet. 

Even going someplace you know well can be an adventure, at times.

Breakfast on the road. 

Every time I drive by the sign for FT Indiantown Gap, it makes me smell. Good memories from the Army Reserve in that place.

Driving in the mountains. 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 9.

The fourth and last day of sightseeing in Washington DC was very good. I admit that I walked off my feet again, but it was worth it.

Once again, I caught the Shuttle from the hotel to the Metro, and the Metro into the city. The Metro was not as congested as it was yesterday and it made for nicer ride. 

The Blue Line of the Metro has a stop at the Arlington Cemetery. And once up the escalators, it’s a simple walk up about a block and across the street. 

If you’re planning a full-on visit to the cemetery, I suggest taking the tour. The tour is a tram tour around the cemetery. It hits all of the highlight items that everyone wants to see. It is also hop-on, hop-off, so you can spend more time in specific places. 

The Cemetery has a free App, downloadable from the stores. The App is quite nice and has a lot of available information. If you get it for the map alone, the map given out with the tour tells you all you really want to know.

The Cemetery is active. There were 26 funerals conducted today. I stood quietly and respectfully as one passed me by. That is important to remember after a couple days of monuments and museums that this is an active place and one needs to be respectful of that.

After the Cemetery experience, I walked the broad avenue that leads back to Washington DC. The walk across the Arlington Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River gives great views. It brings you up against the back of Lincoln Memorial. 

Coming around the Lincoln Memorial from back to front is like going from quiet lawn garden to raucous house party. The Memorial  is busy, but easy to get in and out of. It is also designed to be viewed by a lot of people. It’s massive and open and welcoming. I grabbed some pictures and was on my way.

Walking along the side of the Reflecting Pool led me to realize that it was definitely not meant to be used as a pool. Let’s just say it had a little growth in it. Nevertheless, it was a nice day, and a nice walk.

There was a stop at the east end of the Reflecting Pool to view the World War II Memorial. It was a bit of a look-see to figure out the theme of it, but it was a very nice Memorial. 

The walk continued on to the Washington Monument. It’s big. It’s elegant. It’s iconic. It’s also closed for repairs. Such is the way of things. I would assume that it received damage from the 2011 earthquake, the way the National Cathedral did. I grabbed some pictures of it as well. 

After the Washington Monument there was some more walking around before it was back to the Metro. The Blue Line, Smithsonian Metro station, is only about 3 blocks from the Monument and easy to access. The route took me back up the Blue Line to the Red Line, and back to Bethesda. It was a good day!

The day ended with Fish Tacos. I had dinner with my good friend Beth at Fish Taco. The blackened fish tacos were very good, as was the company.  Now, some shark week or the Tottenham v  Roma match. Tomorrow, back on the road. 

Arlington holds more than just military men. 

There are many famous military men as well. 

Mr Lincoln. Surrounded by a throng of people below the frame.

The Washington Monument. 

US Road Trip 2017, Day 8.

Today consisted of walking my feet off. My goal in life today was to see the old masters. They had to be somewhere in DC. Turns out they are in DC, at the National Gallery of Art. 

Now, the Gallery opens at 11:00am, so I figured I’d head to the Smithsonian Natural History Mussum first, because it opened an hour earlier. 

I was at the Metro and headed into the city at 9:15am. The weekend work crews were no more, so I was on the Metro at the hotel drop off point and headed for the center of liberty.  

I have had a prime complaint since I have been in DC. I can’t find a Metro map that has the Metro lines and the street names where the stops are. It’s super aggravating. This being said, I overshot by two stops and had to walk back down the Mall to the Natural History Museum. 

The Smithsonian NHM is a great place. The collections are well presented and very neatly put together. My one complaint would be, with such a vast collection I would have thought they’d have more comprehensive exhibits. Nevertheless, it was a good experience. 

After a picture of the Hope Diamond, I was on my way down the street to the National Gallery of Art. This place is impressive! Impressive! I love the Old Masters, and the have the Old Masters. The have the only Da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere. The have a good amount of Rubens, Van Dyck, Botticelli, and Titian. They have two rooms of Rembrandt. Absolutely a fabulous collection. 

Not having walked enough, I decided to walk back across the Mall to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I am happy I made the effort. The displays at the Museum are absolutely worth your time. They’re collections goes from The Spirit of ST Louis to Space Ship One. They have good WW II collections and good Rocket exhibits. The Apollo Gallery is outstanding. 

I took in the Dark Universe showing at the Einstein Planetarium. It was great. I enjoyed a presentation that wasn’t strictly constellations and planets. 

Leaving the Air and Space Museum right at closing time, I headed back to the Metro. The Metro, even st 5:30pm rush hour, was easily navigatable. I made my way back to Bethesda with little issue. 

Dinner and a few drinks at the hotel, and it was feet up. I’m done, son! 

More tomorrow. 

The largest nut on earth. From a coconut tree, somewhere.

The Hope Diamond. 

A Rembrandt self portrait.

The Spirit of ST Louis.