Monday, March 6:
We have kept surprisingly close to our planned schedule. We left early Monday morning from Victorville, because we knew Flagstaff was to have more snow. We decided to stop in Needles to find the Aston Martin Services. That proved to be a lucky stop, because the linkage fell off the transmission and because we were able to roll the car down the hill to the gas station which had a service bay and hoist, we were on our way again in less than a half hour. We chose not to think about what would have happened to us in a more remote area. We reached Flagstaff, elevation 7300, in time for lunch - eighteen inches of snow on the ground and six more expected. We chose to continue to Holbrook, Arizona, 2000 feet lower, arriving in heavy snowing, but happy to be there. As we exited the freeway, a large chuck of snow and ice which had formed at the top of the windshield suddenly dropped onto the windshield wipers, but again we were lucky - no damage. Ed made huge snowballs the next morning, but the roads were cleared and we were able to continue.
Tuesday, March 7
Snow on all the cars, but clear highways. We stopped at the Continental Divide for a photo op; snow and fog, but continuing clear highway! Snow on the red rocks of Arizona is a beautiful sight to behold.
Into New Mexico, long drive through the Acoma Indian Reservation. Vast stretches of desert with lots of buttes. Long upward stretch into Albuquerque and into the Sandia Mountains. Lots of mountain passes on this route. Overnight in Tecumcari, a famous stop on historical Route 66.
Wednesday, March 8
Perfect morning on Wednesday. Bright sunshine, this is what motoring is all about! A true Route 66 morning. Even through Amarillo,Texas, we remain on the historic road. Classic breakfast at Jand W Cafe, an old drive in with the stalls and carhop stations intact, although no curbside service. The food was excellent, the atmosphere a time warp to the forties. Our waitress was interested in our car and our itinerary. When we asked her what she thought of our trip, she hesitated several seconds, then answered quite thoughtfully,. "I guess it is okay if you don't have anything else to do". We laughed, and she continued by sayingYou are down to earth people, so I guess it is okay". We took that as a sort of blessing. Amarillo shows better from 66 than from I-40.. Ed thinks I-40 is an emergency landing strip for the whole panhandle. There are definitely a string of "Last Picture Show" towns. We keep being reminded of Murray Morgan's lines from Skidroad; He observed that there are testaments to "men who dreamed the wrong dreams or the right dreams too soon". We are seeing lots of that. Shanrock, Texas, made us feel as if we had an early Saint Patrick's Day. Everything green, Irish Inn, Irish souvenirs, etc. Incorporated in 1911 but founded in 1890 as a postoffice at the home of an Irish sheep rancher. As you good Irish know, shamrock means not only luck but courage. I'm hiding a shamrock in my shoe.
Oklahoma was an almost instant change of scenery - green rolling hills, Middle America. Weatherford an especially pretty town, home of Astronaut General Tom Stafford. Small towns are still the heart of Route 66. Phillips 66 stations in nearly every town. Company logo is that same shield as the traditional Historic Route 66 highway signs. Legend has it that two Phillips executives were going 66 miles an hour on Route 66 while on their way to a corporate meeting to choose the logo when they had the inspiration, especially when the specific gravity of Phillips oil is also 66. Good story. Prosperous looking farms. Hard to picture the devastation of the dustbowl and the Depression. Days of the Okies, Steinbeck's Joad family, endless refugees bound for California. Nifty stop in Oklahoma City - Cowboy Hall of Fame is an architectural diamond! Collection of portraits of famous cowboy movie stars is phenomenal. Outstanding collection of Remingtons, Charlie Russells, and Montana's Robert Scriver, too. The Fraser sculpture in the entrance is worth the visit! Excellent local barbecue a throwback to the days of WW II. Cigarette posters featuring Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman,. Rita Hayworth, etc
Thursday, March 9
Second morning of bright sun. Checked the oil in the car. We are burning only a quart every 1100 or 1200 miles, which is good, and, even at high speeds, are getting twenty miles per gallon of gas. Tulsa was the stop for computer expertise to hook up to our e-mail which refused to come up on our new laptop. Four technicians and an hour wait on phone hold to MSN resulted in the information from MSN that they are the only service in the world which requires one additional box to be checked for security purposes. The COMP USA technicians were dumbfounded by this, but we had immediate connection and found 28 e-mail messages from loyal friends. Thanks especially to Scott Orr, who was patient and helpful beyond belief. Comp USA is on our list of good people.
Our favorite small town so far - on Route 66, HALLTOWN. Picture postcard perfect. Great old antique shop - we found and purchased several original cast albums on 78 records for our casita in Indian Wells: Fiddler, West Side Story, Carousel, and more of our favorites! Shipped home to avoid weight in the car. Overnight in Springfield, Missouri. Nice town!!!! Wwalnuts, grapes, wineries, trees beginning to bloom everywhere. Desk clerk Derek Thomas at the Hampton Inn is added to my list of good people as I now have access to Outlook Express as an icon on my screen. Little things mean a lot.
Friday, March 10
Great stop in Saint Louis. Ginny Hanley McDonald brought her two beautiful granddaughters Caroline and Ashley to meet us at O'Connell's Pub on Route 66, a landmark owned by the same man since 1965. He joined us at the table and gave us a t-shirt for our trip. Then we went to the famous Ted Drewes' for frozen custard. He has been there since the early 1930's. Frozen custard took us back to 1953, when we used to drive to West Seattle for frozen custard when we were first dating. Consistent, aren't we? We left Saint Louis rather quickly to avoid the severe snowstorm which was predicted. Guess what? It has caught up with us.Yesterday afternoon we were able to see the classic statehouse here in Springfield as well as the Dana Thomas House.Built from 1902 to 1904, it was Frank Lloyd Wright's first big commission on his own and has been restored with an amazing collection of his original furniture and glasswork as well as what was surely avant garde in 1904. We are hoping to tour Abraham Lincoln's home as well. He lived here for twenty-four years! We will also visit Lincoln's grave and local memorial if the streets permit. We are going to try to leave now. More Later.
Saturday morning, March 11, 2000 We are in Springfield, Illinois. We thought that we would be at Grant Park in Chicago before noon today, but the best laid plans........ We are looking out our window at ten to twelve inches of snow, with more expected. We are hoping that we will be on our way later this morning. Our car is performing beautifully and we have enjoyed our Route 66 adventures.
Saturday morning, March 11, 2000
We are in Springfield, Illinois. We thought that we would be at Grant Park in Chicago before noon today, but the best laid plans........ We are looking out our window at ten to twelve inches of snow, with more expected. We are hoping that we will be on our way later this morning. Our car is performing beautifully and we have enjoyed our Route 66 adventures.
Last weekend was a memorable start to "Ed and Bev's Excellent Adventure", as our friend Betsy Kirby has described our journey. Our Aston Martin friends Ray and Joann Klauer hosted a dinner party in their home in Bel Air (just east of the Getty Museum) and also pampered us as overnight guests in their beautiful home. The lights of all of Los Angeles were outside ever window, and the view was breathtaking. The Beach Boys were wrong; it does rain in Southern California. That was proved beyond doubt on Sunday morning when we arrived in Santa Monica. Streets were flooded, some highways closed. In spite of the deluge, twenty-five friends and relatives braved the elements to wish us Bon Voyage. The nearby Georgian Hotel on Ocean Avenue earned our enduring gratitude by opening its "guests only" restaurant to all of us as our planned outdoor coffee and muffin gathering would have resulted in partial drowning! We were made warm and comfortable and enjoyed breakfast together at the Georgian. Then, with parkas, umbrellas, and hardiness, we all made our way back to our car. The banner was unfurled, cameras flashed, hugs were exchanged, and we were off, our air horn a final salute of thanks to those who sent us off with warmth in our hearts. Our Route 66 drive through Los Angeles was made more difficult not only by the rain and rash of accidents on the roads, but by the fact that the Los Angeles Marathon was in progress and most of the freeeway entrances were blocked completely! Ed had to make a minor windshield wiper repair en route, but that was quick! We did not arrive in Victorille until 4:00 p.m., and it is only 90 miles from Los Angeles. We did manage to tour the Route 66 Museum before it closed, and then we headed to our motel where we talked and talked about the prayers and good wishes that go with us on our trip. We feel most blessed.
Saturday, March 11
HOORAY FOR THE DAY! We were able to get out of Springfield, Illinois, although we were unable to visit the Lincoln house, etc. Streets were full of snow, but we decided to see what the highway would be like. The first few miles were a bit dicey, but suddenly we had bare pavement, although wet. We were on the road again. North through Bloomington and toward Streator, a small town Ed's sister once lived in and where our nephew Mark Henish was born. Managed to drive into Chicago on the Historic 66. The skyscrapers in the distance were a contrast to the stark and depressing neighborhoods around Cook County Hospital and boarded up housing projects. Our friend Millie Myren, who taught at Eckstein with me years ago and who is now a Baptist Minister and Executive Director of all the Baptist Ministers in Chicago, was a good friend indeed. In spite of bitter cold and wind, she talked to us by cell phone and waited patiently right at the brown and white sign on Jackson and Michigan Boulevard, the legitimate beginning (end) of Route 66. We have successfully completed the first LEG of our adventure. We headed east from Chicago on the toll road, determined to beat any more snow to the east coast. Frosting on the cake, we have made it to Roseland, Indiana, home of Notre Dame. South Bend is actually down the road from Notre Dame. Tomorrow morning will be our first visit to the campus - we will also visit the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame! We hope that we will find some Huskies there. As it has been all week, the car is performing beautifully. Ciao for now.
SUNDAY, MARCH 12, 2000
Roseland, (South Bend) Indiana, to Hinckley, Ohio, to Canton, Ohio Sunshine again. We are getting spoiled. This morning was our first ever visit to the Notre Dame campus. It is immaculate, orderly, and quite beautiful. The buildings are all brick, the surrounding neighborhood filled with houses which are well kept and extremely inviting. The history and the legends of the Fighting Irish were almost enough to erase the agonies of the Joe Bellino defeat of the Huskies. We had been unaware that Holy Cross College is right at Notre Dame. We had also been unaware that Roseland is just as close to campus as South Bend! Notre Dame even has its own golf course on campus. We had planned to visit the College Football Hall of Fame, but there was an auto parts swap meet on campus. You might guess which visit was made as a result of the driver's "executive decision". The hall was packed with people who were looking for parts to restore old automobiles. We are constantly amazed at the vast number of people involved! The forecast in the area still calls for snow so again we decide to be on our way. Clear skies, clear streets, today is excellent. Our timing is excellent. Mark Rinkel, our Ohio dentist friend, is driving around the world with Kevin Clemens, another friend who is Technical Editor of Automobile Magazine. They are driving a 1959 Mercedes 220S, so we are of course comrades. Their car, named Clearly The Best, is in Mark's garage in Hinckley, Ohio, just outside Cleveland. We have been hoping to visit Mark, meet his wife, and see the car, and we are in luck. Because it is Sunday, Mark is where he has been for hundreds of hours, in his garage working on the car. The snow is thick on the ground, but the roads are clear, so we are able to drive into the wooded suburb with huge lots and lovely houses just south of of Cleveland. The Ohio Turnpike has almost no traffic at all, so we are at the speed limit all morning. It is still winter in Ohio. No buds blooming on the trees. Solid, prosperous looking farms all across the state. Mark and Kevin's Mercedes is a sedan, glossy white and covered with sponsor stickers. They have a floor gearshift, red racing seats and seatbelts, and a Huge cooler where the backseat would be. Macho comes to mind immediately - they are serious about this race. Mark's wife Donna is incredible! She is mother of two beautiful girls, aged 7 and 9, an engineer, and a skilled and experienced navigator who can not only manage all the racing computers but has also been known to compute by using sine, cosine, and tangent! She and Mark have driven the Panama to Alaska race together, and she has also done the big ones across the United States, including the Great American Race. We enjoyed the afternoon on their lovely five acre site. I think Ed might wish to replace his navigator in a heartbeat, but he is aware it is not an option. Donna and the girls are coming to London to wish us all Bon Voyage, so those of you who are coming will get a chance to meet this enthusiastic, talented family! Snow is predicted for tomorrow, so again we are on our way, this time to spend the night in Canton. Another Hampton Inn - they are so dependable, always well located, comfortable, and our favorite.
MONDAY,MARCH 13, 2000
Canton, Ohio, through Pennsylvania, to Parsipanny, New Jersey Change of plans this morning. A fairly heavy snowfall is predicted, so we will save the Pro Football Hall of Fame here in Canton and also our trip to Gettysburg for another time, and will instead stay on Interstate 80 and head directly to New Jersey Driver and navigator in complete agreement, so this was an easy decision. We cannot quite believe that we are racing across the country to avoid snow in March. Just last week, the entire area was experiencing record warm weather, and here we are with threatening skies. Our decision was auspicious! We finally reached the shipper's representative by telephone - they want the car in New Jersey early tomorrow morning rather than on March 17. They have a container ready just for our car and they will be able to ship it on Monday, March 20, a week earlier than planned. That will give us more time in England to take care of final preparation. Our anticipation is growing each day. Interstate 80 provides an uneventful drive. Light traffic, few trucks. The central portion of Pennsylvania is almost totally rural, extremely light development. No cell phone service, either. We now have specific instructions to the loading docks in Newark for tomorrow morning, so we will drive into Newark via the New Jersey Turnpike. Yet another Hampton Inn with dinner delivered to our room. We have apparently escaped the snow!
TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2000
Parsipanny, New Jersey to Newark, New Jersey, to New York City Sunny, cold, but no snow. The directions to the dock are so good that we arrive before the shippers! All of a sudden, it seems so strange to put our Spirit of 2000 into the hands of strangers. The first person who arrives to do the "inspection" of the car to make sure the vehicle identification number matchs the number on the title and to list any dents, etc. is a recent immigrant from Turkmenistan. He is amazed that we will be driving this car into his homeland (probably not as amazed as we are). We had told the shippers that we wanted to wait around while they cleared everything with customs but it was quite apparent that we were not needed (and probably not wanted, either). We were grateful for sunshine, because we did some last minute repacking to make sure that we could travel by air with as little luggage as possible. Ed rode with the young "Turkman" to deliver the car to customs, came back, and suddenly, the trip seems real indeed. The car is on its way! We are thrilled with its performance across the country. The engine is quiet, the seats comfortable, the gas mileage a respectable 20 mpg, the car holds the road beautifully. Don't believe what you may hear about unfriendly East Coast people. A young truckdriver, employed by our shipper, was waiting outside the shipper's office at the docks for his truck to be loaded. He offered to take us to the airport in his Jeep so that we could rent a car. We saved time and energy and are grateful to him. The first three car rental agencies had no cars available, so we sampled the delights of the recently renovated airport, including their efficient escalators, monorail, and huge, spotless car rental agencies. Finally, at Avis, we found a car available. On our way into the Big Apple well before noon, we are relieved to have had such good timing and grateful that we will not have to drive and park our rally car and worry about damage or theft before shipping! We head straight for the Gramercy Park condominium which our friend Joe Alhadeff has invited us to use. On the twenty-first floor, we have a splendid view of the city, perfect location, and a roof garden as well. This is the perfect way to be New Yorkers. Everything is in walking distance! Driving in New York is not nearly as bad as people say. We came in by way of the parkway on the west side and found it quite enjoyable. Parking garages are another matter. Expensive, and no in and out privileges. We drove out to Jamaica Estates in Queens tonight to have dinner with our special friends Nissim and Ketty Alhadeff at their home. Perfect host and hostess as always, and the homecooked food was more than welcome after a week of highway dinners. Aunt Sarah (Nissim's beautiful 86 year old sister) from Rhode Island is staying with them, and we have not seen her since Italy, so we had an excellent evening.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2000
NEW YORK CITY - GRAMERCY PARK We cannot believe the temperature here. It is sooooo cold! Perhaps our California blood is thinner than it used to be. We have a small, intimate restaurant on the corner which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A newspaper and good coffee, we feel like real New Yorkers, but we do not look like we are natives. Everyone wears black here, and heavy winter clothing. We find that the handsome young man who serves us coffee each morning is from the Republic of Georgia. When we tell him we are on our way to Tbilisi, his entire face lights up as he describes to us how much we will like the view from our Sheraton hotel and that his parents still live in that city. Such a small world! We are what you might call unprepared for winter weather, so a movie seems in order (during the middle of the day - wicked). This is the first day without driving in so long! We hardly know how to behave. At least we will be ready for the Oscars. We have finally seen American Beauty. Not your garden variety American family!
THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2000
NEW YORK CITY TO OYSTER BAY, SAGAMORE HILL, WESTHAMPTON BEACH, QUOGUE, SOUTHHAMPTON, EASTHAMPTON, BACK TO NYC One of our favorite days of this or any trip. We left early, bound for Theodore Roosevelt's home at Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, Long Island. We have wanted to visit there for so long. Our friend Edith Williams, TR's granddaughter, has spoken so lovingly of her days there, and of course, Teddy is a hero to both of us. We were surely not disappointed. Must admit our first drive east of Queens was shocking to us. Long Island itself is quite different from what we had imagined would be a larger (much larger) Guemes or Orcas. There are high buildings in great concentration in Queens, and even into Nassau County, the Long Island Expressway crosses large factories and corporate buildings. Oyster Bay is much more what we had imagined - lovely rolling hills and estates. Theodore Roosevelt bought 196 acres at Sagamore Hill when he was just twenty-five years old, and personally supervised the design and construction of the sprawling house. It is the only home he ever owned privately, and it was designed to his specifications and included, then and now, treasures from his life. Today, one hundred acres of the original site remain as part of the estate. The main house, original ice house, windmill, all are there for visitors. Acquired first by the Theodore Roosevelt Association from the Roosevelt estate, Sagamore Hill is now administered by the National Park Service, which seems particularly appropriate in light of the fact that it was TR who established the National Park System in the first place. We arrived at Sagamore Hill just after it opened at 9:00 a.m. God does seem to be looking out for us in the timing of this trip. We were the only two on the first tour at 9:30 and were fortunate to have Max Kleinman as our guide. He is a self-described "history buff" but is more than that; he is so well versed in Teddy Roosevelt and his home that we were astounded at the breadth and depth of the information we learned for the first time, expecially since both of us consider ourselves well versed in TR's accomplishments and life. Mr. Kleinman told us that he and his grandaughter and visited Sagamore Hill a couple of years ago as visitors. While they were there, their guide was a volunteer. Mr. Kleinman's grandaughter told him that he should become a guide and kept after him until he applied and was accepted. He is surely one of the best tour guides we have ever had, so we give thanks to his grandaughter for her persistence! The history begins just inside the front door in TR's study. Here stands the desk at which he wrote most of his books. Here on the walls are the heads of some of the big game he loved to hunt. Here he entertained the representatives of both Russia and Japan in his attempt to bring an end to the Russo Japanese war in 1905. He was successful and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. We saw his Nobel Prize when Karen took us on our private tour of the White House while she worked on the Hill. We think it was in the Roosevelt Room. It seems to us that the Nobel prize should be in this room at Sagamore Hill instead. A good portion of the more than six thousand volumes of books owned by TR line one wall of the room. Portraits of his father, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, and George Washington on one wall represent the four men he admired most. Here he wrote many of his more than fifty books. It is said that here he kept even foreign ambassadors waiting if his children wanted him to play with them for a while. The importance of family and friends are apparent in every room in the house. The drawing room across the hall was Mrs. Roosevelt's: fine satin fabrics have been specially made to recreate the room just as it was when the family lived at Sagamore Hill. A large polar bear skin on the floor was a gift to Mrs. Roosevelt from Admiral Perry! The dining room was large enough for huge gatherings, but here again, the family was of utmost importance. Discipline of the children was maintained in part by the threat that misbehavior would be punished by not being allowed to be present at the family dinner that evening, and the children did not wish to miss the conversations and debates which marked the evening meal. Our favorite room was the family room added on to the original house as the six children grew and the family needed more room to entertain. The large room cost more than the original house. It is wood paneled and covered with treasures owned by the family and gifts presented by world leaders to both Teddy and his wife. Here hangs the hat he wore when he charged up San Juan Hill with his Roughriders. Ed asked why Teddy was a Lieutenant Colonel instead of a General. Our guide explained that when TR formed the Roughriders from both his wealthy, educated friends and his cowboy friends and renegades from out west in North Dakota, he first enlisted the promise of a regular Army General to be the leader of the Roughriders. TR's ego never got in the way, and he was content with his rank. Here, too, are family photgraphs and portraits. Of particular interest to us was the large oil portrait of TR's wife Edith and their daughter Ethel, mother of our friend Edith Williams. Mr. Kleinman told us that this portrait was returned to Sagamore Hill in 1998 from Seattle; we assume that it was sent by Edith. Of the six Roosevelt children, only Alice, the eldest daughter, was "assigned" a permanent bedroom. The others "floated" from room to room, taking a bed in whichever room one reached first! Alice grew up to be the popular Alice for whom the "Alice-/blue" gown was named. She was the first daughter of a President to be married in the White House. Her husband became the powerful Speaker of the House for whom the present Longworth Building in D. C. is named. Alice was a spirited and independent young woman. Teddy Roosevelt once said to the effect that he could be asked to control Alice or to run the country, but he could not possibly be expected to do both. Alice Roosevelt Longworth lived to be ninety-six. After her death, the furniture which had belonged to her own mother and which had been in her bedroom throughout her childhood was returned to her bedroom at Sagamore Hill, where it remains today. We stood in silence in front of the room where TR died in his sleep in 1919, one of our country's greatest heroes and presidents. He lived his doctrines of the "Strenuous Life" and of the importance of personal responsibility and public service. The 26th President of the United States, he is immortalized at Mount Rushmore. His tenacity is responsible for the existence of the Panama Canal. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Governor of New York, Secretary of the Navy, Vice-President of the United States, President of the United States both as a result of the asassination of McKinley while TR was VP and as a result of the greatest popular vote margin for President in U.S. history, his was a life lived to the fullest. Current politicians should emulate him! Friends of his said that he could only have died in his sleep, for otherwise he would have fought it forever. We could detail each room and hallway in the house; so much of Theodore is in every inch of the house. Instead, we encourage you all to put Sagamore Hill on your own list of "must visits". You will also be able to tour the home on the property built by TR's son; it is now a museum. Inside are more family memorabilia; one of the best pictures is a photo of Theodore Roosevelt III. TR IV, and TR V. TRADITION! Less than a mile from the house is the gravesite of Teddy Roosevelt and his wife Edith, in the local public cemetery, their personal tomb surrounded by a simple black wrought iron fence. The simplicity of the site and the fact that they chose to be near their beloved home speak volumes about them. We continued three miles into the town of Oyster Bay, a delightful, history filled town with a bust of TR in front of City Hall. Today is exploration day as well as Teddy day. Our next stop is Westhampton Beach, to visit the Alhadeff's summer house. Everything is boarded up for winter. This is truly a summer colony. Charming town; we were surely the only purchasers of ice cream cones on this cold and windy day! On to the rest of the Hamptons via the old Montauk Highway; Quogue is an especially delightful village. Southhampton and East Hampton give new meaning to the term beach cottages. Huge mansions on enormous pieces of property. Old, weathered estates share the area with imposing new "castles" which seem to be from new stock market money! Gas station at Georgica made us aware we are in the area where Jerry Seinfeld recently purchased Billy Joel's residence and where Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart and other celebrities spend their summers. Back to the city via Highway 27 and the Long Island Expressway, we wonder what type of huge political influence resulted in not one but two multi-lane speedways to these fairly unpopulated spots! A truly satisfying day!!!!!
FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2000
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY - NEW YORK CITY - A PARADE IN THE SNOW The wearing of the green was not in springlike apparel. Thank goodness that our host Joe has a well-stocked guest closet. We are convinced that although he is in Paris and could not offer us his winter coats, he would not have wanted us to freeze. We headed uptown to the Museum of Modern Art, knowing we could stay warm there and go in and out to the parade. Standing on the steps of St. Thomas Church on 5th Avenue, we watched more policemen marching than we knew even existed here in the Big Apple. A criminal could have operated in the assurance that most of the city's finest were otherwise occupied. As the snow increased, so too did the looks of discomfort on the faces of the marchers, especially the small girls in fairly light costumes. The snow falling into the trombones is a lasting memory! We braved the cold for well over an hour, then retreated to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, an overpoweringly beautiful structure filled with history. The snow did not stick to the streets, but it took us a long time to thaw out. Cabs were elusive today, not only because of St. Patrick's Day, but because of a Muslim holy day which took away many of the cabs driven by Pakistanis. The doormen here at our condominium came to our rescue by calling a minivan for us so we were able to be in the Theater District in time for dinner with Nissim and Ketty and Sarah and for the theater. We saw Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris in Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings thoroughly enjoyable in every way. Lauren Bacall is fantastic! Set in a retirement home for fading actresses who live only on memories of past success, the play is true irony in that each of the actors in the cast is well over sixty-five or seventy and is in top form. The Tony award winner for DA is part of the excellent cast. The Eugene O'Neill theater has been totally refurbished and is an elegant atmosphere; the small size of the seats reflect the age of the theater. We are certainly savoring the delights this city has to offer!
SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 2000
NEW YORK CITY We continue our research into our hero, Teddy Roosevelt. He was born just a few blocks from where we are staying, and the house is now a National Historic Monument open to the public, so we walk this morning to see the house and more memorabilia. His family continued his doctrine of the strenuous life. Three of his sons went to war in combat units; two died, the youngest, Quentin, was killed in WWI in 1918, and TR never really recovered from the shock. Another son won the Congressional Medalof Honor. Having served in World War I. and having been injured seriously, he walked with a cane. When the troops he commanded were about to enter combat in World War II, he was told that he could not accompany them. He managed to discard his cane long enough to accompany them. He was injured in the attack at Utah beach at Normandy during the invasion and was removed by stretcher from the battlefield. He died two days later of a heart attack and was buried with a simple wooden cross and fence around him. Teddy Roosevelt had taught his sons the need to defend their country. It haunted him that they had suffered so much. Christening dresses, letters, his Roughrider Uniform, so much to savor! Back to the present, we walk to the nearby Loew's cinema to see Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. Having just walked by the Gramercy Park apartment where Julia Roberts supposedly lives, we are beginning to feel at least like adopted New Yorkers in knowing our way around town. The movie is outstanding, by far the best role we have seen Julia Roberts play. Tonight was a dinner party at the upper west side apartment of Paul and Rae Beispel. As usual, they and their friends and family offer great food and great conversation. We are again feeling spoiled.
SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 2000
NEW YORK CITY - JAMAICA ESTATES (QUEENS) Brunch at Ketty and Nissims with their friends Edmond Vorek and his daughter Isabelle and her two great kids, Matthew (12) and Olivia (11). They live in Wilton, Connecticut, and are travel, sports, and music enthusiasts. We hope they will visit us after our trip. They are terrific. Home tonight to get our e-mail. Hope you all know how good it is to hear from you. We are awaiting our passports. Our next message may in fact be from England. Ciao for now!
March 20 through March 31, 2000 - WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN???WHERE ARE THEY NOW???
Admit it. You are thinking that we have been playing so hard that we have forgotten you! Nothing could be further from the truth. We cannot adequately explain how much we look forward to the e-mail we are receving from so many of you. In our case, the frivolous enjoyments of New York continued, as you will see below. The frivolity has been tempered by some hard (and, in some cases, unexpected) WORK since we arrived in London. Anyway, day by day, our past eleven days. You may want to skim the following details; fortunately for you, the length of the entries will decrease dramatically once we are under way. We look upon this interlude as an excellent opportunity to "capture the moment", and many of you have told us you are enjoying keeping up with us. For those of you who would prefer ten words or less, our apologies in advance. You can wait for May 1 through June 9!
MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2000 NEW YORK CITY
Big good news of the day - our passports arrived safely from London. We had to send them in February for the visas to be obtained. Because the U.S. will not issue temporary passports, we could not leave for London until we got them back. Good old Fed Ex. We will have to give them up once again when we get to London. We continue to enjoy being "residents". We are into the rhythm of urban dwellers and cannot believe how seldom one needs a car in this city. The parking garage here at our condominium has strange billing procedures. Twenty-four hours (no ins and outs allowed) is twenty-five dollars. However, if you want your car out five minutes after the twenty-four hour period and want to come back in, say, three hours later, you pay an extra day. We almost believe the parking attendant lives in the garage. He and his wife have a twenty-seven inch color television set which is always on, and nearly every time we enter the garage, they are having a meal. Such a different life style. Tonight was a truly unexpected pleasure. Our friends Ketty and Nissim have not only entertained us gloriously; today, they went beyond friendship and gave us their own tickets for the brand new Elton John/Tim Rice production of "AIDA". Tickets are nearly impossible to get, especially since the show is still in previews, and the grand premiere is scheduled for Thursday evening; a Monday evening show was added, and Ketty had managed to get two tickets. To give them to us was too generous; we did not think we should accept, but they insisted. Times Square at night is always exciting. The neon, the crowds, the sirens, the mass of cabs, restaurants, shops, andthe vast number of theaters. A veritable candy store to us as we have only the Fifth Avenue or the Paramount in Seattle, and just the MacCallum in Palm Desert for big Broadway shows. New York is a feast for theater-starved visitors and residents as well. Ticket prices keep attendance from becoming an addiction, but the temptation is there! Tonight was theater we will long remember. If you can imagine AIDA without the grand march and with some high camp that includes Valley Girl language, the show is smashing! The leads are experienced; the young woman who plays Aida brought the audience to its feet and received deafening applause at the end of several numbers. The young man had been the lead in Rent. The redhead who plays the princess brings the look and style of California to ancient Egypt, and in the process, nearly steals the show. The fashion show in Act One is beyond description. The music is vintage Elton John. Our "Playbill" has been shipped back to Seattle; the names of the leads are so unfamiliar that the stars must remain anonymous here, but they will be major Broadway stars for a long time. Elton John is to be here for the premiere; we hope someone will read the reviews and let us know the critics' opinions. Exciting evening!! By the way, to you Seattle rep. fans - Daniel Sullivan's Moon for the Misbegotten has received rave reviews here in the Big Apple, and his Dinner With Friends is at a small theater just down the street from our condominium. Hope to find time!
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2000
Disappointing news today. After fairly racing across Pennsylvania and New Jersey at the shipper's request to deliver the car on time to be loaded on the ship leaving Sunday or yesterday, we found out this morning that our container did not make it onto the ship in time for the sailing. We called the shipper today only to double check before making plans to leave New York for London. We thought we were probably being overly cautious. Hah! We were informed that U. S. Customs did not release the car in time. We find it hard to believe that three full days would not be enough, but we will spare you a dissertation on bureaucracy (at least for now). They have assured us that it will be released in time for next Monday's sailing; that means a week's delay, but the car should still be there in time to be released and picked up for our April 9 one day race. It is ironic that we chose the shipper because they are the "official" shipper for the rally and we thought we would be certain of problem free shipment. We are getting our things organized and trying to "lighten up" for the flight to London. Thank goodness for Mail Boxes, etc. We shipped home a big box today. We are going to take our usual positive approach and go ahead with our plans to leave for London on Thursday. We "listed"on the United Flight in the morning. We are the grateful recipients of "buddy" passes from our nephew Lynn who is a United Airlines Captain. There is a certain amount of gambling in determining which day of the week and what time will be the most probable for "standby" success. We have decided that the morning flight from JFK will be less popular than most, not only because most businessmen will wait until the two evening flights, but also because most tourists will prefer not to arrive in London at 9:15 p.m. We will see if our logic is rewarded. At least today, United says that it "looks good", which means we should get on in Business Class. To fly free in business class is a true luxury! Tonight we again tested our skills driving in rush hour traffic in NYC. We use the mid-town tunnel to Queens, and, frankly, it is not as bad as the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge! We took Ketty and Nissim and Aunt Sarah to dinner in Flushing (home of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament). Great neighborhood Italian restaurant named "DANTE". Worth a visit if you are ever in the neighborhood! We will remember all these great meals when we are living on Power Bars in the desert in China.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 2000 HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!
Neither one of us can quite believe that we have been married forty-three years today. That is of course because we were married as infants. We celebrated in a somewhat unusual way. Neither one of us is good at waiting in line - suddenly we found ourselves waiting two and one half hours in the cancellation line, hoping to get tickets for the Broadway performance of The Lion King which is sold out more than a year in advance. Those of you who remember our Sports Travel Adventure in 1992 when we toured the country by car, attending all the major sporting events for which we could obtain tickets, will remember how we enjoy the challenge of the positive attitude in getting into sold out events by obtaining "house seats" or last minute personal sales. The morning was bitterly cold, and the fierce wind did not help. We became quite well acquainted with those ahead and behind us in line. One young man worked at DisneyWorld in Orlando; his friend is the manager at the Legal Seafoods in Boston; a real estate saleswoman from Atlanta, a Montessori teacher from Maui and her teenage daugher: all of us hoped for tickets not only for ourselves but for each other. A young man kept coming out and telling us that usually there are from twelve to eighteen tickets returned each day, sometimes not until just before showtime. I could probably have paid for any tickets by taking bets on whether Ed would actually remain in line - fortunately, we were all able to go inside the ticket office lobby occasionally to get warm. The first four in line were called inside - success for them, and excellent seats as well. Our anticipation grew! We entered the line promptly at 10:00 - by noon, we were all discussing the possibility of going to Chicago instead, but suddenly, we all felt hopeful. A tour bus drew up in front - we hoped that some of the large group had been unable to come and that this might be our best shot. Eureka! We were able to buy orchestra seats in the eighth row center at face value! We were then immediately relieved that we had not succumbed to the scalper's offer of seats at $ 250 per seat! More Elton John/Tim Rice music. The colors and costumes are superb. Our favorite character was of course the Meerkat! The show is more of a spectacle of scenery and costuming than most Broadway shows; the animals come down the aisles, the staging is unique. We enjoyed it and are certainly delighted we were able to see it, yet both of us agreed that it is not our personal favorite. There was no Eliza nor Henry Higgins! We decided that our anniversary dinner would be at a spot which we visited when it first opened years ago, The Tavern on the Green in Central Park. It was perfect. The green lights on the exterior trees, the greenhouse effect of the dining room, Central Park itself, all so New York! Sophisticates from the Big Apple may sniff, but we loved it, and the food was excellent! We joined the dinner crowd which was on its way to the theater, and there were very few "visible" tourists. We kept returning to the difference of today from our wedding day when we had final exams of spring quarter as well as the wedding! Here we are, still Side by Side.
THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2000
Up at 5:00 a.m., ready to head for the airport when the garage opens at 6:00. We are lucky this morning. Traffic on the Long Island Expressway is light and we are able to return our rental car after only a slight detour around the airport as a result of strange signage. The flight to London is not even half full, so we are able to check luggage with fairly good assurance that we will make the first flight! Even with the positive assurance of the United personnel, there is still a huge sigh of relief when our names are finally called and our boarding passes issued. Nine hours until the next opportunity had not sounded appealing. Uneventful, smooth flight into Heathrow. We know to avoid the black cabs, (too expensive), so we called the mini-van to take us to Colnbrook, just seven minutes away, and our room at Ye Olde George Inn, a slightly faded but convenient and friendly historic Inn on what was once the main route between London and Bath. There are only five guestrooms, but the staff is friendly and when it is late at night after a long flight, the proximity to the airport is fabulous. By the way, if any of you will be landing at or going to Heathrow, there is an excellent cabdriver named John Newell. He is with LHR Express Cars, Ltd., and will come into the terminal with a sign with your name on it, escort you to the car and take you all the way into Knightsbridge or other parts of London for 33 pounds (28 pounds if he meets you outside). His cell phone is 07971-275-361 if you are calling from Britain. if you are calling from the U.S., dial 011-44-7971-375-361 or 011-44-1895-444-333. If you use him, be sure to tell him you are friends of the Suhrbiers, and DO ask him to tell you the story of how he came to be an owner of a condominium in Tucson.
FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2000
Thanks to all of you who said Happy Birthday, Bev, by e-mail. What a treat to be remembered. We missed seeing our friend Ron Milton at Ye Olde George; he is no longer the manager there, but the new manager offered to take us in his car to Kingston, a nearby village not too far from Colnbrook for good shopping. We had planned to visit Hampton Court Palace, but decided to save it for another day and instead to take the train into London to do some shopping so that we will not freeze to death or be soaked through to the skin by the heavy rain. This is not California. Onto the Jubilee line of the famous London tube, we are enjoying talking to a couple from Arizona in a crowded train, when, more suddenly than we can explain, we fall victim to the Artful Dodger. It was so swift and so smooth that we keep talking about it and remembering each and every detail of the lovely young woman, flawlessly dressed and coiffed, with the handsome eight or nine year old son. She stood close to Ed, their hands on the upper rail for support. Suddenly, she lurched, put her hand over Ed's (knowing he would be a gentleman who would attempt to keep her from falling). Ed steadied her, put her hand back on the railing, kept her from falling and at that exact instant knew that the small boy had lifted his wallet from the front pocket of Ed's pants. Ed confronted her, but at that moment the doors of the Westminster stop opened and she and the boy were gone from the train in a flash. They were true professionals - the Westminster station is the only one we know of with multiple exits to the outside, to buses, cars, and even boats. We made a full report at the Green Park stop; they said that wallets are most often returned after the cash is taken, so we are still hoping that will be the case. We are mindboggled at the skill with which the duo operated. Their timing was unbelievably expert, even knowing when the train door would open so that they could escape. Fortunately, Ed carries little other than cash and his driver's license when we travel. Our passports were safely in our room. A minor addition to the story: the small boy was also able to unzip the purse I was carrying over my shoulder and close to my body - fortunately, the wads of paper and maps I carry with me on top of the interior were a deterrent to his success. Losing the wallet is bad enough, but the feeling of being violated brings some discomfort. You ask why we did not grab the woman or the boy?? Visions of newspaper headlines, perhaps, or assault charges?? After all, Murray Guterson is not in London. We will have some reports to file and some work to do, so we have decided that it will be a good idea to head straight for the Royal Thames Yacht Club tomorrow instead of seeking a B&B outside London. If you wish to send regular mail, you can send it to the Royal Thames Yacht Club, 60 Knightsbridge, Cabin 12, London, SW1X, 7LF. We will be here nearly all the time until May 1. More about the club itself in a later report. Its location is superb!! We did go back to Colnbrook tonight to the Old George. If you decide to stay there, do not accept Room 202. It is above the music portion of the bar, and even the manager says the ceilings and walls are too thin there. Ask instead for Room 205, the Princess Elizabeth room.
SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 2000
The ride from Colnbrook to London was part of the entertainment of the day. Mr. Newell is knowledgable, friendly, and more than willing to converse. He took us straightaway to the Royal Thames Yacht Club, which will be our home for more than a month. It is just across the street from Hyde Park, and we are fortunate to have a big picture window looking out on the park. Horseback riding, in full, elegant, proper habit, is popular in the park. On the Serpentine, a body of water in the park larger than Green Lake, paddle boats are well used. There are fabulous gardens and walking paths, statues, two restaurants, picnic areas, something for everyone, and right in the middle of the West End of London! We are also just a block and a half from Harrods and the Sloane Street shops (where prices are astronomical). Restaurants are plentiful and convenient. The Club itself has outstanding "public" rooms, library, lounge, "veddy" British. During the week, men must have coat and tie all day long in public areas, women in skirts or "tailored" trousers and "proper" shoes. A large portrait of Prince Philip hangs in the lobby; he was Commodore, as was Prince Charles. In past years, so was Lord Mountbatten. The club dates back to the mid-eighteenth century; the boat models, trophies, and photographs are phenomenal. More history of the club later. It is much more comfortable to our way of thinking than a big, convention hotel. The staff at the desk is especially considerate. We are surviving without CNN, but only barely. We manage to get a USA Today each afternoon, and sometimes a New York Times. The London Times can take up a large portion of the morning!
SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2000
A long walk in Hyde Park, then on to see the area along Oxford Street, and then by bus to Battersea Park for a contemporary art show. Unfortunately, the bus driver did not know where the art center or the community hall was and the newspaper ad for the art show failed to give the address. We stopped at a Shell Gas Station to ask for directions, and of all the cars there, we had the good fortune to approach Rosamund, a young woman who was washing her van. When we asked directions, she immediately offered to take us to the art show, which turned out to be a couple of miles away. We would never have found it on our own. She dropped us off, and by then we had discovered that she is a tour guide in London, doing most of her tours for Americans. She is delightful, and we hope to see her again. Art show was not worth the effort, but interesting. Back to South Kensington for a tour of Kensington Palace. Princess Diana lived there from the time of her marriage until her death. Great location, but the thought of a nineteen year old girl moving into all that history, old portraits, and a more than somewhat faded palace, made us realize she may have paid a price for her title and position that even she could not have foreseen. The crazy Suhrbiers stayed up to watch the Academy Awards live from Los Angeles. That might not be worthy of note here except for the fact that they began at 2:30 a.m. and ended at 6:30 a.m. We are even surprised that we did it!
MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2000
We are becoming underground experts. Traffic is so heavy here that cabs and buses are not good choices, and the tubes are so easy to use. The names of the stations bring back lots of memories. Trivia question of the day to all of you. Where have you heard ...."Goodbye, Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square"...? A prize to anyone who can cite the provenance! Today included a trip to Bethnal Green to meet Mahjeet Arhi, Joe's cousin, will be our mechanic for the final few items which need to be done to the car. St. Paul's and Covent Garden and more walking - now that we have found some good walking shoes (ours are in the car somewhere between New York and here) we are enjoying foot travel. The doubledecker tour buses are a must for first time visitors here, and we are going to do it again. They are the type that offer narration and one can hop on and off at will. The monuments, especially Lord Nelson at Trafalgar, Big Ben, the Tower, St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey,none can ever fail to inspire wonder, and now they have been joined by the world's largest ferris wheel. It goes so slowly - we have been told the ride includes just one rotation, but the slow speed means just that much more time suspended at a height that does not appeal to us. Keep tuned to see if we are brave.
TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2000
NOT good news today about our car. We are both trying to be philosophical and polite, but we have been informed this morning that the car did not make it onto yesterday's ship either. Putting the blame on U.S. Customs doesn't pass muster with us at this point. We believe someone did not follow through as that person should have. Fortunately, the shipper's second sentence after he told us the car was not on the ship was that they would fly the car by Lufthansa Airlines to Frankfurt and bring it by truck to London. We are distressed at the extra opportunities for damage to the car and contents in all these moves, but we are helpless to do anything about it. The flight is to be on Thursday and we should have the car by next Monday - stay tuned, because if it is not there Monday, our message will not be so polite nor so understanding. Work day again - back to Battersea Park to deliver our passports again to complete the VISAS. They have been working on the visas since February. We have China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, etc., but what we have begun to call the "Stan" countries, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan, have different time schedules, so we are again without our passports. Fortunately, we have color copies of he passports with us. It is surprising how often people want ID for various things. Because Ed had a copy of his driver's license, we were able to get a laminated version which he is carrying as ID right now. Humor of the day - we needed to fill out a form for customs to bring our car in - one of the requirements was a signature from a UK resident. I asked a club employee at the desk to sign the form. After reading it carefully, he agreed, but I felt he did so somewhat reluctantly. After he had signed it, he very quietly approached Ed and said he just wanted to double check that he hoped we were not importing drugs and that we did not have any guns in the car. Ed assured him that we had neither in the car, and the man was quite visibly relieved.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2000
We love staying in Knightsbridge - it is convenient to everything. "Did" the Museum of Natural History and the Victoria and Albert Museum today. The structures themselves are mammoth, across the street from one another, impressive indeed. The collections represent personal collections as well as museum acquisitions. The Natural History dinosaurs, minerals, gems, and biological exhibits are fantastic teaching tools. The vast numbers of school classes in attendance were wildly enthusiastic about the museum's contents. The Victoria and Albert has a fantastic collection of high fashion from three centuries, European and Asian treasures, too much to see in one day. We will go back to both!
THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2000
Research and reconnaisance today to see how long it will take from Knightsbridge to Tower Bridge and the best way to get there. The tube still seems to win hands down. Just over half an hour with only one change of train. We took the bus back after only a brief view of the bridge because it was so cold and rainy (YUCK); traffic is so heavy that the bus took much longer, but the sightseeing was excellent. London is growing on us each day!!! We sound as if this is our first trip here when actually we have been here several times. This is, however, the first time we have had time to do anything more than the "usual" tourist stops. When we went to Covent Garden today, we visualized the flower market scene from My Fair Lady. Of course, the chimneys of the red brick buildings seem to sing Step in Time by themselves. Ed keeps looking for the admiral to fire the cannon! The history is almost too much, the choices of what to see so difficult.
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2000
We told Amanda, the agent who is obtaining all of our VISAS, that we would be happy to help in any way. She called and said she had just discovered that our passports need additional pages and that she would appreciate our going to the US embassy to get the pages. We agreed. She and we were reluctant to use a bicycle courier to bring the passports, so her husband met me outside The Scotch House (clothing store) by Harrod's to do the passport "drop". He is a charming Egyptian who has invited us to their house for an Egyptian dinner which he will cook for us. Again, we walk across Hyde Park, this time to Grosvenor Square, an impressive sight, especially for Americans. Our embassy covers a full block and a huge eagle looms over the front door. There is a slanted concrete moat surrounding the building which is in turn separated from the building itself by another side moat. Outside the embassy is a statue of Dwight David Eisenhower in his famous jacket of WWII which bears his name. The statue is recognizable from more than a block away. Just across the street in Grosvenor Square itself is a large statue of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, standing in cape with his cane in hand, looking exactly the same as his photographs. He is surrounded by water elements bearing the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear. There are also four concrete markers with the dates 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944, the years of his four elections as President of the United States. The memorial was dedicated in 1948 with both Eleanor Roosevelt and King George VI in attendance. On a straight axis across from the Roosevelt statue is an obelisk which honors the 244 Americans and 16 Brits who made up the three RAF Eagle Squadrons before the USA entered World War II. Again, an eagle is on top of the memorial. The Americans have had a strong presence in Grosvenor Square since the early 1930's. We found that quite interesting in light of the great effort Ed put in keeping the historical integrity of Seattle's 18 story Grosvenor House when he did the restoration in the early 1970's. Speaking of the circle of life...... Back to Leicester Square tonight to the largest movie theater in Europe (apologies to you Brits reading this - we know you do not consider yourselves part of Europe; neither do we but that is what the promotion says.) We saw the GREEN MILE. Tom Hanks is his usual dependable self, but the entire cast was superb. Friday night at Leicester Square is less then appealing - a huge, red, moving readerboard warned people to be especially careful to avoid thieves, especially pickpockets. Confidence inspiring, don't you think? Huge numbers of young people in their twenties,most of whom had been drinking for hours, left little room to walk. The worst sight of the evening was in the tube station - a young man had fallen so hard on the escalator that the cuts on his face and forehead showed the exact pattern of the escalator. Believe it or not, in spite of these sights, there appears to be little physical threat to any person, just to their possessions. We noticed that most women have figured out a way to leave purses home at night. Inner coat pockets are perfect.