Where Are They Now?
!!!!!WE ARE ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!!!!
EAST TO THE "CANNONBALL CLASSIC" RALLY
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA TO MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE, NEW YORK
SEPTEMBER 3-13, 2000
HAVE ENTERED ANOTHER RALLY
SONGWRITERS SEEM TO UNDERSTAND OUR PRESENT MOOD. AFTER ALL, IT IS SEPTEMBER, WHEN THE "DAYS DWINDLE DOWN TO A PRECIOUS FEW", "WHEN THE AUTUMN WEATHER TURNS THE LEAVES TO FLAME", AND WHEN WE "HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THE WAITING GAME"..... ...SO, "HERE WE GO AGAIN", "SIDE BY SIDE". WE HOPE YOU WILL COME ALONG WITH US ON OUR WEBSITE.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2000
Our most recent message to you was from China. After we packed the car for shipment back to Long Beach, we went to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. They are even more impressive than we had imagined! Then on to Shanghai, where we were entertained royally by Ralph and Elaine Loveland, Liz's sister and brother-in-law. Their driver Mr Shen took us all over the city and their fabulous cook and housekeeper pampered us daily!
The American Club at the top of a tall downtown building had a stunning view of the Bund - the bar must be the best view in all of Shanghai. The modern city is in stark contrast with the China desert and small villages we saw on our rally! We have been told that eighty percent of the world's construction cranes are in Shanghai, and we can believe it. Huge new buildings are being built for miles and miles.
We spent hours scouring the small markets Elaine has discovered while living in Shanghai. She is an expert! The smallness of the world was apparent as we drove up to the Hilton Hotel to pick up our daily newspaper. In the driveway were Charlie Hammer and John Bollard, close friends and neighbors for many years in View Ridge in Seattle!!!!! When we appeared at the door of their rooms in the Hilton and knocked under the guise of a maid's delivering a USA Today Newspaper, Eve Bollard and Chris Hammer were literally speechless.
Finally, we returned to reality and the U.S. We were thrilled to see family and friends again, but we had some "decompression" for a while. The adrenalin rush of the London to Peking rally was addictive!
Shipment of the car from Beijing to Long Beach, CA took over a month. Finally, we were notified that it would arrive on July 10, but would take two to four days to clear customs and be available for pickup. We were also notified that in addition to the shipping charge, we would have to pay $ 1100 for the car to be cleared through customs and transported to the warehouse. That seemed outrageous to both of us, so we did our usual research and found that we could do the customs clearance ourselves (no charge) in one day and the car could be picked up later the same day directly from the shipper's warehouse. We were armed with every piece of paper we could imagine needing and had called Customs to make sure we could do the clearance, but were still apprehensive that Long Beach Customs could be difficult and that perhaps we should have paid the broker! Much to our surprise, we were out of there with the clearance in less than fifteen minutes. The agent even faxed a copy of the clearance to the shipper's office for us so that they could get the car released from the docks. (Union rules would not allow us to do that). We drove up to Vernon (close to Compton where Venus and Serena Williams lived and first began their tennis) to the shipper's warehouse and waited for the truck to arrive. Finally, the truck arrived, our car was still in the shipping container into which Ed had loaded it in Beijing, and we were there while it was uncrated. Ed was able to drive it off the loading dock. Not only had we saved $ 900 by doing our own customs clearance and pick up, but it had become another small "adventure" in problem solving. It seemed just right to drive it back up to Pico Boulevard to Joe Arhi's shop. It was time to begin the restoration all over again!
When we left Santa Monica in March to begin our round the world journey, we and the car were immaculate. When we returned the car to Joe in July, it was in need of much more than we will document here. We will add the details to the "Car Preparation" section of the website. We were in a hotel in L. A. several nights over the next two months while the work was progressing.
Briefly, Joe and Ted and Al broke down the engine and put in a new piston and rebuilt the head and valve assembly that had been the big threat to us in the last eight hundred miles across China when the tappet assembly studs broke and we were forced to do a temporary repair. In addition to numerous other small items, we rebuilt the differential, put in new rear bearings and a rubber boot that had ripped when the car went airborne. We found it easier and less expensive to replace the two front fenders than to repair them and take care of the minor rust which was involved in the two original fenders. We purchased two rare fenders from a car that was being parted out. Vic did a masterful job in facricating some sheet metal areas, straightening out the hood that was bent in the windstorm in China. He also took care of any other straightenng before the car was primed and painted. Joe even found a new original windshield and passenger window for a 19 57 220S . The body work was again done by Raj and Vic down on La Cienega at the Classic Coachwork division of Joe's business. Every bit of chrome on the car was redone. Harry put new soft leather on the seats and all of the interior panels. We have a splendid new paint job, original colors, but absolutely perfect! No more racing numbers, name of the car on the windshield, or driver and navigator identification, but we still have our Chinese license plate, and we proudly display our London to Peking "finisher"'s medals on the grill and on the trunk.! We plan to add more!
Everyone worked hard to complete all of the details so that we could pick up the car on Friday before Labor Day.
Now for the details of our latest adventure. We have entered the Cannonball Classic, a "gentrified" edition of the Cannonball Run made famous in the 70's by the classic Burt Reynolds film "Cannonball Run". If you go rent it at your local video store, be aware that in today's version, local speed limits are recognized and respected! You will see that the film was written by Brock Yates (who also has a cameo appearance as the "starter" in the film). He is the co-sponsor of the rally we will begin on September 14; Martin Swig of San Francisco, who heads the California Mille and the LaCarrera Nevada, is the other sponsor. Cars up to 1971 are allowed in today's Cannonball. We will begin at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York on September 14 and will finish at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on September 23. We will do all "blue roads", two lane, but all paved.
Of course we could have shipped the car to New York, but the logistics seemed ridiculous when compared to "simply" driving across the country to begin the rally. After all, September is such a beautiful month to drive country roads, and we have not yet been in West Virginia, the last of the fifty states to be visited by the Suhrbiers. White Sulphur Springs and the Greenbrier are a definite lure, and the road north from there to Gettysburg became anchors of our planned route.
The Spirit of 2000 is without its name on the windshield for this trip. We just may name it the Cannonball for the rest of this year at least. Wish you could have seen our departure this morning. The car is immaculate inside and out. The new paint job is flawless - same colors, but perfect. The leather seats, panels, etc. which have been replaced are the perfect classic tan. The sun is shining, the top is down, we are ready to go!!!! We have driven to Sedona, Arizona, so many times, but with the sunshine and breeze in our faces, it seems somewhat like our sailing days. Jerome, Arizona is crowded with Labor Day visitors, so our visit there is brief. We are somewhat optimistic to arrive in the middle of a holiday weekend without reservations, but we are fortunate to get a room at our small and favored Poco Diablo resort right in Sedona, with views of the red rocks, a small 9 hole golf course, and an uncomplicated night's rest before our big drive.
We are both somewhat surprised to find ourselves on another rally so soon, but Ed has a plan, which probably does not surprise you.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2000
Off promptly at 5:50 a.m., top down, raring to go. The sun was not yet up, so we decided not to take the canyon road north, having been on it enough times to know the curves and narrow winding road would eat up too much time. South on 179 to I-17, then north to Flagstaff: COLD!!!! Both of us decided we have not been that cold since the last time we skied. We were above 7,000 feet altitude, and until the sun came up, it was freezing! The Golden Arches at Exit 198 were more welcome than usual. We have been raving about the beautiful sound of the engine ever since we picked the car up in Los Angeles after its six week "rebuild". Its performance has been "brilliant", and even the gas gauge is again operable. We cruise along to the Four Corners in a perfect mood, especially since we are again warm. We seem to tempt fate each time we relax too much. Just about the time we reach the Four Corners, the only place in the United States where four states (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado) meet in one place, we hear the dreaded clicking of the tappets! Knowing the entire system was to have been replaced, we are aghast. We stop at Tuba City at a garage where a big yellow sign says "Complete Auto Repair". An earnest and helpful Hopi tries to adjust the valves for nearly an hour, and we are on our way again, but Ed knows from the sound of the engine that we must stop as soon as we find another town. Our planned stop at Pueblo, Colorado, tonight is altered almost immediately. We can only hope to make it to Cortez! .......again,..."the best laid plans of mice and men"....
Never have we seen so many motorcycles on the highway! The Iron Horse Rally organized by Senator Ben Lighthorse Campbell has brought over twenty-five thousand bikers to the Four Corners area. Many of them are in Cortez, and we are lucky to even find a room. Of course, no mechanics are working on today, the Labor Day holiday, so we have hours this afternoon to figure out what we will do about our problem tomorrow morning. Cortez, Durango, Denver, where will we find a good mechanic??? Minds floating, we decide that good old AAA may be of help. We make a quick call to the emergency road service, explain that we do not need a tow truck but rather the name of the local authorized tow truck driver. Who better to know the decent mechanics in the area??? A helpful person indeed, he tells us that D&L Services in Cortez are excellent.
This is a rare day and a rare town that offer nothing stimulating. Even the television availability is marginal. At least there is City Market across the street with a good deli. The restaurants here are not appealing. Maybe the uncertainty about the car is affecting our attitude toward Cortez, but it is definitely not a "must return to" town. There are a lot of motorcycles here. The Iron Horse Rally has brought some life to the town, but some pretty high noise levels as well. We are fortunate to have a room. Last night the entire town was sold out.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2000
A short tour of town this morning does not change our basic opinion of the environment. We are at D & L Services at 7:00 a.m. but must wait until they open at 8. Just in case we can save some time, we drive to the service department of the town's largest auto dealer. Their response to our request for repair is brief: "Huh, huh, I wouldn't touch that car". So we go back to wait patiently. We are somewhat encouraged to see that the D&L garage is clean and orderly and well appointed. The owner is not concerned when the mechanic is not there by 8. After all, it is the day after a three day weekend. We hope it has not been a lost weekend for the mechanic, but he arrives just ten minutes late. We are especially pleased to see him arrive in an Audi - good sign!
Scott turns out to be amazingly bright, capable, and enthusiastic about our "sweetheart" of a car. He and Ed analyze the probable work that must be done, and although Scott is sure he can do the whole thing, he feels that just in case the keepers which hold the valve and spring together "pop" out and as long as we have to wait a day for Fed Ex to deliver parts from Joe in L.A., Scott will do only the fairly brief valve adjustment, and that we should then drive to a mechanic in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, whom Scott says is one of the best Mercedes experts in the country and who has a full machine shop. ! He assures us that we will find Glenwood Springs much more attractive than Cortez, so that if there are any delays, we can at least be in a delightful small town near Aspen. Scott makes the phone call to John at Sports Wheels and does a magnificent "sales pitch" in convincing John to work us into his full schedule the next day. Joe in L.A. has assembed the necessary parts by 8:30 in the morning, and Fed Ex will do the rest. Of course, all of this careful planning depends on our making it from Cortez to Glenwood Springs, but by now we are confident that Scott is highly competent and that our plan is a good one.
Scott does the valve adjustment, the tapping ceases, and we are on our way again. We can hardly believe our good fortune is finding just the right person in Cortez. If any of you have ever been there, you would know why we were so relieved! Even the fact that we had to drive over a hundred miles out of the way could not dim our enthusiasm for making the best out of a frustrating situation.
The road west to 191 through Monticello, Utah, is uneventful, but the scenery improves by the mile. Red rock cliffs are magnificent. A bonus is our first look at Moab, Utah. Our Indian Wells friend Wally Laub has MOAB on his license plate and has told us how beautiful it is. He does not exaggerate. The recreational opportunities there, white-water rafting, boating, hiking, climbing, etc. are outstanding. The entire area is unspoiled; air is clean, skies a staggering blue, and the red rocks almost rival Sedona's. We spend the afternoon climbing, and the elevation is about eight thousand feet most of the way. The small town of Palisade, Colorado, is the highlight of the day. Fruit trees, grapes, a winery, the town is green and lush, surrounded by high peaks, but nestled among them beautifully. Near Grand Junction, the town has a definite atmosphere of tranquillity and prosperity. One sign interests us: "Meadery, next right". We need a dictionary!
We have a new term for what we are doing these days. Ed coined the phrase "Around the World Racing Program". Quite appropriate! His program is always well planned and executed. We find we are enjoying planning our own itinerary on this trip and changing roads and destinations when the mood strikes us or when weather and car repairs demand revisions. No pink book or timed check-ins, but we find we set goals of time and distance on our own. It is hard not to take all of the "Scenic Byways", but if we do, we will never make it to the Cannonball. Again, we find so many similarities to our sailing trips, but at least we do not have to plan around tides.
Colorado River along this highway is not attractive - muddy, brown, its low level is the result of the past year's drought. We are spoiled with the beauty of our Northwest Rivers!
We are fortunate again - we make it to Glenwood Springs without incident and are able to go to Sports Wheels and meet John and Wendy Beckius, the owners, before the close of business today. We are somewhat disappointed that Fed Ex cannot promise delivery until 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, because that would mean another lost day. We can only hope the delivery will be earlier, but at least Scott was right. This is a beautiful town, and John and Wendy lend us a red Audi Quattro to use while we are here.
Glenwood Springs is less than forty miles from Aspen. It is a charming town built around a huge natural springs. Two pools, one 90 degrees and the other 104, offer the relaxation and "reconditioning" that only they can. The entire town is green. Many old Victorian houses, well restored and maintained old buildings in town, a good place, if any, to be temporarily "marooned". It has been a long day. The Italian Underground here is a delightful dinner place, good atmosphere and good food. Early to bed.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2000
Perfect weather this morning, and for a change, we are not on the road before sunrise! We have time to go into the center of town and enjoy the hot springs pools. The town has done an excellent job of building excellent facilities around them for tourist use, although the natural feeling suffers somewhat by the amount of noise. For a small town, this place has a lot of traffic! We thought briefly of driving to Aspen, then decided we should stay here and hope that Fed Ex arrives early.
About 11:00 Ed decides to drop by Sports Wheels to see if John has found anything new about the car's needs. Wonder of wonders, as we drive in his driveway, we are followed by the Federal Express delivery truck. The lovely woman driver says that John is always her first stop! We are in luck!!!! We probably can be on our way this afternoon. Mike, their machinist and mechanic, and Ed and John had already analyzed the problem as the pillars not having been replaced. Those pillars had been modified in China when we had the same tappet problem. The valve stem ends were slightly damaged, so Joe in L.'A sent us all the parts necessary for a major repair of valves. Luckily, we determined that all we needed to do was replace the damaged pillars and adjust the valves yet again.
The repair is completed before 3:00 and we are on our way. We are back on the Interstates to make up the time we have lost in car repairs. We have driven portions of I-70 on previous trips, but this will be our first long stretch on it. Vail has changed soooo much. Huge condominiums have essentially wallpapered the entire area, and some of them are nearly on the highway. Denver too has spread out since our last visit. On the outskirts near Lookout Mountain is a large brown tourist sign which gives the two following memorials completely equal billing on the sign: "MOTHER CABRINI SHRINE" AND "BUFFALO BILL'S GRAVE".
We stop at Limon, Colorado not because of its great beauty or historical significance. We are tired and it is there. Dinner at "Rip Griffith's" truck stop restaurant. Don't look for it in Zagat, but we had a super young waiter named Aaron, a junior in the local high school, who should go far in this world. He is a doll, quick-witted and naturally humorous. P.S. Pronunciation of the town, named for a nineteenth century railroad worker, is "Lyman", not the "Leemone'" as in Costa Rica.
We are happy that the car is running well again. Back to the joys of country roads as soon as possible.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2000
We are back to our early morning departure, this morning at 5:15 a.m. My brain usually awakes about a half hour after we get up, which makes for some interesting procedures in getting ready efficiently. There is almost no traffic so we can put miles behind us quickly in this rural area.
We have had few stops on this trip other than for gas, water, food, sleep, and repairs. This morning we take time to visit the Prairie Museum in Colby, Kansas, mainly because it is advertised as having a good collection of Chinahead dolls. Most of you know that Ed has been collecting them for Karen and Liz and Kate and Tess for birthdays and Christmas ever since Kate was born, so their collections are fairly extensive already, and we are always looking for good ones. Colby's Prairie Museum is especially interesting in that it seems to be in the middle of nowhere, yet it has some excellent displays. The family which built and donated the collections is not a wealthy family, but a local working couple (schoolteacher and laborer) who lived in Colby most of their lives and bequeathed their treasures and funds for the museum. In addition to the dolls, the most interesting items on display were the Meissen pieces. Two in particular were breathtaking: a large "Dinner Party", complete down to the place settings at the table, and the "Coach and Four". The women inside the coach were perfectly exquisite; the intricacy of the lace trim on the dresses was delicate beyond belief. How can porcelain be so beautiful?
I think that if we play a word association game in which we are asked to say the first thing that pops into our minds when given a word or phrase, Interstate 70 will forever bring the prompt response "corn". Whether high as an elephant's eye or not, there is corn, corn, and more corn. This morning's highway signs are familiar to us from our 1996 "Dead President's Tour" which we did on our way to Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. Eisenhower's Abilene home, memorial, and library, a highlight of any trip. Bob Dole's home town of Russell, Kansas. We speed past these today, for we have "miles to go before we sleep". We stop for the night at Lawrence, Kansas, home of the University of Kansas. University towns are always good stops.
Longest day of the trip so far. College town, what else but pizza delivered to our room from Papa John's. The owner is the founder of the original Pizza Hut Chain which began here in Kansas. Now that is important historical information.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2000
We are quickly making up the time we lost. On the road again at 5:00 a.m. in the pitch black of night. The sun doesn't come up around here until closer to 7:00, which seems strange to us ducks/desert rats. Great time to drive through Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. None of the office workers are up yet, much less on the freeways.
When the sun finally comes up, we are treated to some good rural scenery once again. Here in the land of Mark Twain the rivers take on a particular rhythm and they give a new meaning to "meandering". We follow the Missouri River for miles, on one side of the road and then the other. Extensive road work is taking place all the way through Colorado, Kansas, and now Missouri. Lanes are closed, and there is often two way traffic on the Intersates. Exits are often blocked, and the huge orange tubs can be disconcerting. It is not always easy to determine what is closed and what is open.
Favorite bumper sticker in Missouri: "I miss Ike. Hell, I even miss Harry." We do not have time to stop in St. Louis, but we were there in March for our visit with our good friend Ginny Hanley McDonald, so this time we drive on through. Just east of St. Louis, we pass Belleville, Illinois, birthplace and childhood home of our friend Ralph Kamm and Jimmy Connors of tennis fame (Jimmy, not Ralph).
Not wanting to arrive in Louisville in rush hour traffic, we stop this afternoon in Corydon, Indiana. The only navigational necessity of the entire day was to get off Interstate 70 where we had been since Colorado, and take Interstate 64 south. It would have been highly embarrassing to miss that exit; something tells me the driver would not have understood. Great Hampton Inn. They should hire us for their commercials. Ever since they took us in for the Olympics in Atlanta, we have been loyal and satisfied customers. Their locations are always convenient, rooms usually spacious (especially the King Study), good public areas, USA Today, and good breakfasts. Dinner tonight at the Ponderosa Steakhouse, one of the chain of restaurants that our rally friend Chick sold before he became a Marmon collector. Usually quantity does not always denote quality, especially on the highway, but in this one, at least, the steak and shrimp and everything were outstanding (for being on the road).
Frosting on the cake today was the best women's tennis match we have ever seen. Venus Williams defeated Martina Hingis after being so close to defeat that her father left his seat in the stands after a particularly frustrating point loss. Suddenly she dug deep and managed one of the great comebacks ever. Great entertainment. Excellent stop.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2000
A late start this morning: 6:00 a.m. It is still dark, but daylight comes faster. We drive through Louisville and Lexington even though we would like to see Keeneland again, but we have a real destination today.
HISTORY IS MADE!!! Welcome to West Virginia. By the end of today, we will have driven the length and/or width of all fifty states,including all of the main islands of Hawaii and the entire state of Alaska, even Shuyak Island off Kodiak. West Virginia is the only state we had never been in until this morning, and we are celebrating! The license plates here in West Virginia say "Wild and Wonderful". We shall see. The scenery certainly fits the license plate description. Charleston, the capital, is disappointing because of a pollution haze, apparently from the factories, and not even the gold dome of the capital can entice us to stay to look around. Just a few miles past the capital is a miniature town, nestled in a valley, reminiscent of Brigadoon. A large highway sign says this is the "Home of Jerry West, NBA Great". It is a long way from Staples Arena.
Today the driver humors the navigator. Since college days, I have wanted to visit the fabled Greenbrier Resort at White Sulphur Springs. As the years have passed, we have been close but have never had the time. We thought that we would have to skip it again this time because of the delays in Colorado, but our early morning departures and long days of driving have us back on schedule and we arrive at the resort in the morning. One can build an image of something that cannot be equalled in reality. That is not the case with the Greenbrier. It is fabulous. Set on 6,500 acres of pristine, immaculate grounds, this is a world class resort and a reminder of the gracious past. The main floor public areas still require coats and ties and dresses in the evenings, and the rooms are traditional English/southern. The lower level is more casual, but the Cafe is traditional right down to the preppy pink and green color scheme and chintz and wicker. Lisa Birnbaum, where are you? The food and service are outstanding. From the guard at the entrance gate to every waiter, shuttle driver, and desk clerk, all the staff are friendly and there is not a hint of supercilious atitude anywhere. There are 54 holes of golf, the grass is even greener than in California, and the golf club itself echoes the days of Bobby Jones and Sam Snead. The hotel itself is large and imposing; the "cottages" lining the golf courses and gardens are infinitely more appealing for a vacation. The indoor swimming pool is Venetian in atmosphere and quite grand. There is tennis as well as croquet, horseback riding, horse and carriage rides, shuttle buses running around the grounds all day long, and there is even a bowling alley inside the hotel. The gardens provide superb walking paths. There are canoes for the lake, and the entire atmosphere is serene and soooo well-mannered. This is a long way from the sanitorium at Chardzhou and the abandoned school and barracks at Naryn. The Senior Women's Golf Association is holding its big tournament here today, and even with the large group, there is no hint of overcrowding. Shopping here could be extremely dangerous over a two or three day period. The golf and tennis shop are enticing enough, but the lower level of the hotel boasts St. John, Orvis, Ralph Lauren, and too many more to list.
The sense of history here makes it much more than most resorts. During World War II, the Axis diplomats from Washington DC and their families were housed here for the duration of the war. In addition, the entire hotel was used as a hospital throughout the war. Perhaps the most interesting of all is the secret location built into the mountain here for the President and Congress to enter in case the United States is ever attacked by nuclear weapons. Built under the code name Project Greek Island in 1960, its existence was not revealed to the public until 1992. (Thanks for those last two details, Doug. Good work!) Next time we return to Greenbrier (positive thinking), we hope to have a tour!
We tear ourselves away from the perfection of the Greenbrier and are on the road again, due north to the West Virginia border. Highway 219 North is tortuous, 8% and 9% grade for miles and miles. The brilliant sunshine (and high humidity) we enjoyed at Greenbrier vanishes and we find ourselves in a torrential downpour which makes the already sharp curves and steep hills even more dangerous. This is a silent drive! Our good old AAA book says these are the highest mountains in West Virginia and there are constant ups and downs, but the altitude is only 2200 feet. Not the Colorado Rockies or the Washington Cascades. We average barely 30 miles an hour, so we stop at Snowshoe, a ski town with an Intra-West Inn that is home for the night. The navigator is feeling guilty this afternoon for choosing this road as such a "straight shot" up to Gettysburg. That it is not, but it is the most direct route.
Memorable day at the Greenbrier, but even as we reflect on the perfection of the beauty and the surroundings, we find ourselves comparing it to Indian Wells and realize again how lucky we are to have our own corner of Paradise. No check-ins and check-outs and no tips, either. We continue to have the fantasy of someday saying we are on a vacation and simply ensconcing ourselves in our own Casa de Palmas y Pinos sans telephone and FAX.
Dinner at the Snowshoe lnn tonight. Our waitress is from York, Pennsylvania and she has suggested a more circuitous but "better" route to Gettysburg. She rattled off highway numbers and towns, and I have marked them on our map, but I still have qualms about the way they look. In the morning, we will decide.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2000
Up and ready to go at 5:30 a.m. but the locals have advised us that 6:00 a.m. is deer feeding time, and the roads in the area are dangerous because of the deer. We are still unsure of our waitress's directions, even though she is from Pennsylvania and is very sharp. In the hotel lobby, there are three "good old boys" who are on a golf trip. When we ask them if we should take 66 or 219, they answer heartily and in unison, 219! They have backed up our instinct that even though her route may indeed be shorter, the narrow, steep, and winding roads are too dangerous in the thick fog, especially since it is still pitch-black and there are few if any lights along most of the roads. Therefore, we drive north on 219 and are pleasantly surprised that it is an good road, fairly straight, and passes through some picturesque, extremely well maintained villages and towns. These do not appear to be wealthy people bur rather extremely hard-working homeowners who take pride in excellent maintenance of their homes, yards, and farms. Impressive! The scenery is much like Snohomish and Monroe areas, but the towns and houses much more appealing.
Even though we are driving vigilantly, we cannot avoid hitting a deer who pops out of the woods onto the road before we can avoid her. Fortunately, Ed had just slowed down to look at a corn field, so we just "clip" the back end of the deer who continued running. We had swerved immediately and slowed almost to a stop, luckily, for she was followed across the road by two dutiful small deer. We are so grateful that she did not appear to be hurt. The only damage to our car is to the front chrome bumper guard. Sorry, Raj and Vic and Joe.
It is impossible to be here in West Virginia without thinking of John Denver and singing again and again: "Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong, West Virginia.......take me home". These are the country roads which make driving such a favorite pastime for us.
There are churches everywhere here. Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Baptist, Methodist, these church parking lots are full this morning. Life here seems to be basically untouched since the towns were founded. Farms are small, the towns are apparently self-sufficient. Some evidence of mining towns and company houses appear from time to time. Senator Robert C. Byrd is a big name here. A large bridge, medical center, buildings, etc. all bear his name, unusual for an incumbent, but then, he is kind of our Warren Magnuson of West Virginia.
Aboout nine o'clock this morning, in full sunshine, we enter Maryland. Later, we will tally the number of states we have hit so far this trip. The change of state is an immediate change of scenery. Bigger, more modern towns and farms. Suddenly, coming straight toward us going the other direction on our highway, comes a shiny black horse and carriage with two Amish inside the carriage in traditional black and white clothing and caps. There are three other carriages on the side road; all are on their way to church. A proper Sunday morning sight. Beautiful farms all around this area of Maryland. We leave 219 for 68 through Cumberland, then north on 81 to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to 30 East to Gettysburg, another of the main destinations of this trip. We are still surprised how close Gettysburg is to Washington, D.C. It is only about two hours. For years, we west coast natives thought of Gettysburg as being much closer to Philadelphia!
We are lucky to get the last room at the Hampton Inn. It is a smoking room, but even that cannot deter us - this is the first close call we have had in not getting lodging.. We did not expect there would still be so many tourists here. There is so much to see, we decide to take the two hour narrated bus tour. We prefer a live guide to the earphones one must wear on the other bus tours. We have a terrific guide. He is obviously a real Civil War buff. His excitement as he speaks of each general and each battle location is palpable. His sympathies were revealed when he told us that "We came up this hill...." as he was referring to the Confederate forces.
To stand on the battlefields of Gettysburg is haunting. The battle took place over just three days: July 1, 2, and 3rd, 1863, midway through the Civil War. Ironic that the fighting was over on the 4th of July. Gettysburg became the defining battle of the war; the Confederacy never recovered from its defeat. Over fifty thousand men were killed out of the 170,000 who were fighting there. About 622,000 people were killed in the Civil War, more than the total of casualties in all of the other wars in which the U.S. has been involved. To hear the statistics and the names while standing on the hills and viewing the monuments is an emotional experience. We toured for over two hours and were most impressed with the guide and the tour. There are over one thousand monuments in the National Park Cemetery: each state, regiment, brigade, or group who has wanted to put a monument has bought the land from the Federal Government and has erected the monument. One of the more inspirational is the eternal flame on the monument dedicated to the Confederate and the Union troops. When the monument was completed, two very old veterans, one Confederate and one Union, came to the dedication and together lit the flame which still burns. As with many monuments, there was some controversy because the base of the memorial was made with North Carolina granite, the top of the monument of marble from Vermont. To us, the combination seems most appropriate.
In spite of the bitter battles, only one civilian was killed. A young woman who was in the kitchen baking bread for the troops was hit by a stray bullet which came through the wall of her home. Perhaps there is a message there about staying out of the kitchen. Strangely enough, none of the houses in Gettysburg were destroyed. Each building which was there in 1863 now has a small placque on it signifying it as a Civil War house. The David Wills house where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before the Gettysburg Address is in the center of town. A red, white, and blue bunting hangs under the window of the room in which President Lincoln slept. Just across the street is a house with a cannonball still in the wall from the time a stray cannonball hit the town.
In additional to the Civil War history here, there is a substantial Eisenhower presence. He bought a farm here in 1951, expecting to retire here permanently. When he became president in 1952, he used it weekends and in 1955, when he had his heart attack, he used this as the official White House throughout his recovery. He entertained De Gaulle, Churchill, and many other famous world leaders here. After his second term as President, he did retire here and lived here until his death. Mamie lived here another ten years until her death. At that time, the farm was bequeathed to the people of the United States. The original furnishings still remain in the house. Cars are not allowed; shuttle buses take visitors to the house and gardens.
The humidity was intense enough that haze formed which harmed the view from the hills somewhat, but we still had an excellent visit to Gettysburg. Thank goodness for our National Park System. Good old Teddy Roosevelt. We were amazed at the number of German tourists who were touring the battlefields.. There were several busloads of them.
We returned to our room well satisfied with out first visit here. We will go back tomorrow morning.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2000
Gray and foggy this morning but back we go to photograph the battlefields and national cemetery here at Gettysburg. We are there by 7:00 and have the entire cemetery to ourselves. Our main destination is the memorial to Lincoln and the Gettysburg address. Standing there by ourselves, we can hear his words which we should remember today. The graves of many of the soldiers killed in the battles here are buried in semicircles around the memorial. Many had been buried hastily where they fell during battle. Just a few months after the Battle of Gettysburg, men were hired to unbury the dead, try to identify the bodies from papers in pockets, etc. and to bury them again in the cemetery with identifying stone whenever possible.
We are able this morning to stop by the famous statue of Robert E. Lee astride his horse. Given and dedicated by the people of Virginia, the statue stands at the top of the hill looking out to Cemetery Hill. There are over one thousand monuments and statues here, as well as one hundred of the one hundred thirty eight cannons used in the battles. The barrels of the cannons are original; the wheels have been replaced. One of the more interesting statues was donated by North Carolina. It is by the same sculptor who carved the faces on Mount Rushmore. The scene of the men raising the flag brings immediate recollection of the famous photograph and later sculpture of the flag being raised at Iwo Jima. One of our more impressive stops this morning was at Devil's Den, where a whole brigade was trapped and where the casualties were immense. Huge boulders cover a hill just opposite Round Top Hill.
It seems silly to us now to know that the reason so many officers were killed during Civil War battles was because they felt that for their honor they could not take cover behind rocks or trees or stone walls or hedges. They must stand in the open to show their men they were with them. Unfortunately, that made them sitting ducks for the sharpshooters on the other side. The supposed last words of a popular general whose men were urging him to take cover were these: "They couldn't hit an elephant".. They did manage to hit and fatally wound the general.
Our visit to the battlefields came to a somewhat premature, definitely soggy end. The heavens opened up with a heavy downpour. Combined with fog, we knew we were in for a hideous drive north, so we had better be on our way. Our route was chosen carefully to take us to New York as quickly and efficiently as possible. No Amish Country tours which we had planned for today, no Pennsyvania Dutch farms and antique shops. Just out of the storm, please. We took 15 north to 83 to 81 which became 78 east. We were able to hit 287 and 87 north easily, and except for irrational truck drivers who believe they are driving sports cars at LeMans, it was quite a pleasant trip once we left the rain behind. Last spring we did the scenic highway 80 through Pennsylvania; today we were less than thirty miles south of that on 78 and the scenery was still appealing. The AAA book of history along the way is excellent; sometimes it is hard to go past a city or town with so much historical value.
We have had only one real slowdown on any highway throughout this trip. Today, we had a 25 minute delay; bumper to bumper, 5 miles an hour; that is not bad, though, for eight days of driving. Seattle and Los Angeles made it into USA Today again this morning as two of the ten worst traffic situations in the country. Perhaps that is why we have patience with delays on this trip! We are used to them.
We reluctantly have bypassed New York City and our friends Ketty and Nissim. We have some things to do here in the Catskills before the rally begins. Yes, we are in the Catskills. Actually, we are just at the beginning of them, but we are on the west side of the Hudson River in Newburgh. We have not had time to tour yet, but tomorrow we plan West Point and Hyde Park and the Biltmore mansion. This will be the third one of that family's estates that we have seen: Newport, Rhode Island; Asheville, North Carolina, and now along the Hudson River. Amazing. We are now less than an hour from the Mohonk Mountain House where our rally will begin, and we do not have to check in until Wednesday. This gives us time to be rested and ready for the Cannonball Classic and our drive west to the Fairmont in San Francisco.
Greetings to all of you. We look forward to any e-mail messages!!!!!!!! We have driven 3,147 miles since last Sunday. We can honestly say we have a lot of miles on us!