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Travelogue - 03/25/04                                                                                                                               Links to all Travelogue pages


NY to NC

My final week in New York City was non-stop. Dates, dinners and parties filled every evening.  Sunday night I visited Patricia. Monday night I was treated to a lavish dinner by a stock broker trying to win more business from me. We dined at Smith & Wollensky, one of New York's best steak houses. The food was outstanding, but the liquor flowed a bit too freely. Two bottles of fine wine with dinner and a couple of cognacs for desert did me in and it was all I could do to make it home after throwing up all over the sidewalk outside the bar. (Hey, I never said I was a class act.) I spent most of the next day recovering.

Tuesday night Sara & Michael (my sister & brother-in-law), threw an anniversary bash for themselves at a friend's $5-million townhouse on west 89th Street. It was an awesome home that the happy owners were still renovating. That was about enough upscale events in a row for this country boy. Almost. My Big Apple send-off wasn't quite finished yet. 

Wednesday was Saint Patrick's Day. During the past 5 years that I've been living in the Northeast, we've made that day into a minor family tradition. My parents, my daughter, my grandchildren and I are all native New Yorker's, four generations born right here in Manhattan. (Well, I think my mother was actually born in Brooklyn, but that's still New York City so I guess we'll keep her.) In New York everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, so each year we all put on something green and go watch the parade on 5th Avenue. It's not an elaborate parade - there aren't any floats - but troops of policemen and firemen and sanitation workers step proudly, encouraged by local high school marching bands and the heartfelt cheers of the crowds lining both sides of the Avenue. It's really a hometown celebration.

This year my 4-generation core group was joined by sister Jacki & Colorado Ron, Lisa's assistant at work, Alicia, and my grandkids' pretty Brazilian nanny, Ana. It was snowing on St. Pat's Day, wouldja believe! Aye, and so it was that we all traipsed across Central Park to our usual rendezvous at the corner of 65th & 5th, where we found my 93-year-old father already waiting on the southwest corner as usual. We watched the parade and cheered and whooped dutifully for about an hour and that was enough cold and snow. Then we taxied downtown to our favorite Irish Pub, Tir Na Gog (I think that's what it's called), where we toasted each other in our best imitation Irish brogue and ate corned beef and cabbage and the like. Aye, and a good time was had by all.

Click photos to enlarge


The next day I caught the bus back to Rhode Island and my RV. Friday night Josh & Tiffany threw a very nice going away party for me in their new (my old) house, which they have made beautiful with fresh paint, new carpeting, nice furniture and hard work. Attending friends included Danielle Sappet, who worked for me these past several years and has been invaluable to my business, and her husband, Pete, a professional computer systems expert who saved my ass so many times when my computers malfunctioned that I can't count them all. Brad and Amy and their little boy live aboard a Bristol 40 sloop at the marina docks year around, and the yard manager, Mike Keyworth and his wife came to say their farewells. Finally, my old sailing buddy, Captain Dan Sweeney,  formerly of the schooner Moondrift, came up from Newport with a lady friend. Everyone ate and drank and had a great time all evening.

Saturday, March 20th, 2004:  Around 10:00 AM, I carefully backed the Walkabout out of my former backyard and drove out of Barrington, Rhode Island. I was elated, saddened and a bit nervous all at once. Elated to be setting off on the next phase of my life at last, one I hope will be chock full of new places and adventures. Saddened that I will no longer be near enough to my family in the Northeast to visit so often. Nervous because this was the first time I'd driven my new motor home fully loaded. Actually, I thought I had stowed everything securely enough for driving, but I was very much mistaken. 

Almost immediately things began to rain down from shelves and cupboards. Books slid out of the cabinet behind me, odds & ends in the galley fell into the sink, plastic bottles at the bathroom sink bounced onto the floor, and all kinds of stuff stored directly over the driver's seat shook loose and showered down onto me. Hats, ponchos, gloves, even one of my two guitars pelted my head & shoulders, not hard but steadily for a few minutes while the camper rolled and bounced along the streets of Barrington. I decided I'd just let things find their way for a while so I'd know what needed to be secured better. At the same time, the stove & oven made a huge clattering racket every time I went over any little bump in the road, and bottles & dishware banged and rattled in the lockers creating an unnerving racket. After a few blocks of this, I pulled over and spent some time re-stowing, padding and bracing. Before long I had things in some semblance of order, but I've been improving it ever since. 

I visited Captain Dan Sweeney in Newport to see his new house, a big one with enough rooms to make a fine boarding house. Then I dropped off some leftover boat gear at a marine consignment shop, crossed the Jamestown bridge, and paid a call on my good friends, Danny & Cindy Siegel, in Narragansett. 

When I first arrived in Rhode Island 5 years and 4 months ago, I was traveling in my previous RV. My sister, Sara, and her husband, Michael, urged me to call the Siegel's, since Cindy is Michael's sister and they're all the best of friends. Well, I wound up spending my first night in my new home state parked in Dan & Cindy's driveway, and that night I enjoyed the first of many feasts in their home. It seemed somehow fitting that I spend my last night in Rhode Island as I had spent my first, camped out in the Siegel's driveway.

Cindy Siegel is a Yale graduate and a practicing midwife. Danny is a pharmacist by trade and a farmer by avocation. When he's not working at the local drug store, he grows just about everything imaginable on their couple of Narragansett acres . Fruits & salads, greens and veggies all thrive behind the Siegel's farmhouse-like home. Dan also brews his own beer and makes excellent wine, and every fall puts on a traditional New England apple pressing that sometimes gets written up in the local newspaper. In the summer he raises sheep and chickens and keeps honey bees. Dinner at the Siegel's house is always warm, friendly, festive, garden-fresh and absolutely delicious. During these past 5 years,  I've spent many a fine evening with them, one or more of their three beautiful daughters, and assorted friends & family. 

Sunday I left Rhode Island and drove to my sister Sara's house on Candlewood Lake, Connecticut, where I dropped off several boxes-full of photographs and original music tapes & records for long-term storage in her basement. After having lunch with her and Michael, I finally set out in earnest for my new old life on the road. I crossed the Hudson River via the George Washington Bridge, catching a final panorama of Manhattan Island stretching off to my left, and then headed south on I-95. That night I slept surprisingly well parked in a rest area along the New Jersey Turnpike with truckers all around me, their diesel engines idling as they dozed in their heated cabs.

I drove all day Monday except for a brief stop in Annapolis, Maryland, to look at a 46' ketch for sale there. I don't really want to buy my next cruising sailboat yet, but I'll be keeping an eye out from now on. If I spot something that's just too good to pass up, my plans might change suddenly. We'll see how long I can hold out and remain boatless. For now I'd prefer to keep my life light and simple while I recover from 5 years of hard labor. 

I got my first glimpse of spring as I rolled through Richmond, Virginia, where trees, shrubs and flowers were budding and blossoming everywhere I looked. What fun to escape the tail end of that frigid New England winter (there was still snow on the ground when I departed). I got off the Interstate just over the North Carolina border, switching to secondary highways and back roads that led me through pretty farm country and small towns showing mostly black inhabitants. I finally bedded down in Washington, NC, parked in front of the local Wal-Mart store. I went in and confirmed with an employee that it is, indeed, Wal-Mart's policy nationwide to allow people traveling in RV's to park in their parking lot overnight. It's a smart policy for the stores and convenient for me when I'm making tracks and just want to stop, sleep and continue on my way. I expect I'll be taking advantage of Wal-Mart's generous offer again from time to time.

I write today from Beaufort, North Carolina, where my good friends John & Lisa Nelson run a yacht brokerage from their house on Hill Street. John & I have been getting into trouble together since we met on the first day of school in 2nd grade, when we got into a fight over who was going to sit at which desk. John claims he won the fight, but the truth is I was kicking his butt when the teacher broke it up. 


Since I've been here John & I have picked some guitar on the back porch and raised some hell in town quaffing pints of beer and mounds of chicken wings along with Lisa. Today was so warm & sunny we took their motorboat out for its first spin of the season. My RV is parked in the Nelson's backyard driveway. I have de-winterized the plumbing system and finished installing my drinking water filter.

I'm on the road again. Life is good.

Next Entry: 04/05/04


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