August 2005 Archives

Overnite @ Kemblesville, PA

Awake: 4:50am I set the alarm for 6:00am but woke up before 5:00 &
couldn’t get back to sleep again so I just stayed up. Around 7:15, we
rendezvous with Grace & Gary, drive 2 min to get some coffee @ the local
A1 store. Then Gary drives us into New Castle, Delaware (25 min) & gives
us a 1st class tour of their company: the various departments & their long
time employees, offices, rooms, parts departments, large shops with
overhead cranes where they assemble the customers mechanical, electric or
hydraulic driven apparatus, semi trucks & trailers for hauling heavy
equipment, etc. They have a very specialized workforce to create some very
specialized machinery.

From here, we drive to “Arners” for a 10:10am breakfast; we were all a
little hungry.

Next, Gary places a cell phone call to the Charles Cropper Parks Art
Studio & tries to catch Charlie in the studio working….but he was already
gone. “Come & see us anyway” his secretary says. We spent @ least 1.5 hrs
admiring all the various sculptures of famous people, animals, beautiful
women, etc.; it was spell binding. This was our 1st visit to a very
elaborate & professional working art studio. Charlie’s assistant Matt, was
most helpful in touring us around & explaining just how one creates clay,
plastic, or bronze sculptures. What an experience just being here among
all this talent…. & Charlie is over 80 yrs of age.

From here, we are driven in & around the historic town of New Castle,
Delaware. What a neat place with a lot of history. After seeing some great
old homes & buildings of New Castle, G & G take us into the countryside to
show us some beautiful new large homes built by the Wilson (sp) Company.
It was obvious to us that a lot of the old farmland is being purchased &
turned into country estates.

We visited several areas of new homes during this tour…. & then, Gary
stops to point out the home they thought would fit perfectly on our
Nicktown property. The owners were not home at this time so we could only
see a front & side section, but we did get the picture….Kathy had a
camera…. & we got the picture that G & G were trying to emphasize also.
Their idea makes a lot of practical sense to us so we will be giving it
more attention as time goes on.

Then we return to the G & G estate where they give us a tour of their
home…..which by the way, has quite a number of extra ingenious ideas &
ways to keep the occupants comfortable with lower costs: i.e. a heat
exchanger to heat up their hot tub; a powerful squirrel cage blower
bringing in cool air throughout their sun room; etc.

We also spent some time discussing the house plans G & G copied & drew out
for us that resemble the house that Kathy took a picture of & the sloping
land it was on.

For dinner, G & G take us to the town of Perryville, MD & the restaurant
“Rendezvous.” En route, we stop to see their intended final resting place
on the hill and, a little further down the road, their lovely Presbyterian
church built in 1720 (?).

For yrs, I have loved Maryland crab cakes & this was the right place to
eat them. Kathy had a single order & I had a double. Gary helped select
the wine & what a great choice he made….in fact, the wine was so good, he
asked Grace to drive back to their country estate because he ordered a 2nd
bottle all for himself!

We were pretty well tired out from the day’s fast paced action & touring
so we waste no time in going to our respective sleeping areas for the

Lights out: 8:56pm

Awake: 6:30am Temp 52 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Kathy calls the Footes & we talk about the house they have considered
making an offer on.

Walk to 8:00am mass….then spend an hour with the cosmopolitan coffee group
before returning to our bus.

After breakfast, I call Cindy (local notary) to confirm she will be in her
office this morning….then make a quick drive over to have her notarize
Carol’s note regarding the location of our stored Lexus. Next, a stop @
the post office to mail my papers back to the DMV of Anchorage. My 1st
mailing took 10 days to get a return response.

Next K & I pack a small overnite bag each for our travel today. Then we
drive the Suzuki to Cambria Hills Golf Course (25 min) to attend a
“Rotary” club meeting & lunch @ 12:00 noon. The meeting was short, the
lunch very, very good & then they had a speaker who talked about how he
was able to tear himself away from a perfectly prosperous poultry farm, go
to college, work @ a research organization smashing atoms for 4 years, &
then change his career into aviation which had its ups & downs. I thought
the speaker did a fairly good job; nobody fell asleep or walked out during
the guy’s speech. Why, this huge crowd even applauded when the guy was

From there, K & I change into our traveling clothes & drive east on route
30, then route 896 for a total of 252 miles. We were instructed to call
our friend Gary when we arrived @ the town of Kemblesville for further
instructions. During this call, we could see him about 200 ft up the road
holding the cell phone in one hand & something else in the other….turns
out that “something else” was a bottle of wine. Now….that’s my kind of
guy! This was just the beginning of a 2 day…good time with never a dull
moment visit with Gary & Grace.

They had their Newell coach outside of its garage for us to stay in during
our visit, complete with welcome balloons inside.

After we moved into the coach with our overnite bags & a few shirts, etc.,
Gary joined us in having a glass of wine until his wife Grace, returned
from town. Then we ride with them to Newark, Delaware for an 8:20 dinner.
Grace fills baskets of popcorn for us from a popcorn machine just inside
the restaurant, mmm, good! Kathy & I share an Ahi tuna meal. En route
back to their home in Kemblesville, Grace, the driver, tours us through
the college town of Newark……a very busy downtown area.

Once back @ the G & G homestead, Gary tours us through his huge storage
bldg that they have & too many things to describe at this time. Then the
next connecting bldg, part motor home storage & the other part some
classic cars, business workshop parts & useful supplies. And yes, there’s
more: another connecting bldg, the woodworking & metal lathe shop. All
very impressive….by any standards!

By now, we are all tired… we retreat to our respective resting places
for the night. It was a long but adventurous day for us.

Lights out: 11:45pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 53 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

We walk to the community center & do our workout exercises for 45
min….then join the elite coffee crowd for an hr……then back to the bus for
our breakfast.

@ 10:45, we pick up Florentz @ his house, drive to Indiana to meet with
the realtor, Elizabeth, who is helping the Foote’s realtor, Lisa. My 1st
cousin Florentz has volunteered to scrutinize the potential Foote house
with us. My cousin has a lot more experience & know-how when it comes to
physical structures & mechanical machines. After a good hr of checking
every room, closet, appliance, floor, bathroom & the basement, etc.,
Florentz gives it the thumbs up for being structurally sound & well built.
Some cleanup, painting, updating, minor repairing, etc is obviously
required. Kevin was also in the house during our careful scrutiny but his
attention was focused on: can this place be centrally air conditioned @ a
reasonable price & without the huge duct work? He was accompanied by an
air conditioning representative.

From the potential Foote house, we 3 drive over to the rented studio
apartment where Melissa & Matthew are waiting for our final report….which
we were happy to report to her as: “Good!”

After giving Melissa a few more details, spending a little time with
Matthew & making a few local phone calls, we drive to the Staples store &
send a letter off via FedEx to the Togari family in Nagoya, Japan. Then we
lunch @ McDonalds……Florentz’s choice!

Next we visit Florentz’s son Cyrus who gives us a splendid tour of his new
building @ the Indiana County Industrial Park. The offices & main entry
room are not quite finished, but from what we have seen on this tour, it
will be a showpiece of inlayed designs of different woods from around the
world. We watched a worker cut wood using their laser cutter & looked @
stacks of wood from many different countries. We looked over the U-Sand
assembly line & talked about the latest orbital hand held U-Sand machine
soon to be tested & marketed, we think. Our time is limited on this visit
so we thank Cyrus for his time & tour…then take Florentz back to his place
& we return to our bus in Nicktown.

K & I change clothes, drive over to Saint Augustine (30 min) & join Gary &
Rosemary for wine & a dinner outside of their 5th wheel trailer. It was a
nice, relaxing evening & we enjoyed a meal of: hamburgers with all the
trimmings, creamette salad, baked beans, celery, carrots & green peppers.
The green peppers, onions & tomatoes were fresh from the G & R garden. Oh
yes, for dessert: a slice of banana cream pie made by Gary himself.
Perhaps later this month, G & R will be moving into their new home just
about 50 ft from where we are eating. It’s a good looking house in a nice
quiet country setting. I’m sure they are waiting patiently to have it
finished up.

Just as we are about to leave, G & R suggest that we borrow 6 one gallon
jugs & 2 five gallon containers of theirs, fill them up with their good
water from their good well & take them back to our bus to add to our water
tank. We couldn’t pass up this random act of kindness, plus it will
increase our capacity when we make trips to the waterfall area for future
fill ups.

We thank G & R for their invitation & hospitality & head back to our bus
about 9:00pm.

We felt so good about having all this extra water, we immediately emptied
all the containers into our water tank & finished around 10:10pm.

My brother Don called during our absence….I returned the call just as he
was about to crawl into bed……so we didn’t talk too long…just a quick
update to each other.

High temp today=74 Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 7:00am Temp 51 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to 8:00am Mass…..then join the suave coffee bunch. Afterward, K & I
exercise for 40 min in the community center.

The Lexus registration arrives in the mail this morning. I was hoping this
would arrive in time for us to drive the Lexus to Kemblesville later this
week. I delay opening the letter until I am back in the bus & then I find
out: denied! I failed to properly identify where our Lexus is stored
(located). Even though I filled out the application & gave an address, the
Alaskan DMV wanted to have the specifics & have it notarized. Dang!
I call Carol….she agrees to write a letter to satisfy the DMV of Alaska &
then I’ll have it notarized by Cindy. We were disappointed.

I spend some time this afternoon making an outline for giving a short
speech for the Rotary on Thursday noontime.

Meanwhile, Kathy spends some time writing a nice note to the Togari Family
in Nagoya, Japan.

7:25 dinner: Fresh tomato soup, pork chop, cucumbers in sour cream, tomato
mozzarella salad, apple sauce & garlic toast.

Late evening: call Katrina in Denver. She is shopping @ Old Navy…then
drives to Costco for grocery shopping….all the while we are talking with

Amazing! We didn’t realize she had checked out of Old Navy and driven to
Costco…never an interruption in our conversation. She sounds great! Her
rental apartment is getting organized, she likes her location, her class
of students, her school, the principal and other teachers, & she likes
her pre-owned Honda Acura auto. We talk for nearly an hr. and we’re
delighted to hear that all is going so well for her.

High temp today=74 Lights out: 11:20pm

Awake: 6:30am Temp 58 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to 8:00 am Mass……then join the peppy coffee group. Afterward, Kathy
stays @ the community center to workout while I walk over to Krumenacker’s
Hardware store for a hose clamp….then I join Kathy for 45 min of exercise.

Larry calls from Ebensburg: he will try to fit us in this week for
drilling our new well…. “No guarantees though” he says. “I am backlogged.”

Kathy drives to Barnesboro (7 min) to get some of our clothes altered. No,
we are not gaining weight! Some of these clothes are in need of repair,
others need alteration & we have no sewing machine available.

Melissa calls with general chit-chat & house hunting talk. My talk time is
cut short with her when Florentz arrives with his dowsing rods to confirm
for the 3rd time, the spot for drilling our new well. He doesn’t stay
long; he just wanted to make another check. After he leaves, I get out my
dowsing rods & do the same thing….sure enough, the drilling spot doesn’t

When Kathy returns from Barnesboro, she brings 13 more gallons of water to
add to our water tank.

7:10 dinner: Alaska salmon burgers, garden veggie casserole + toast.
Late evening reading in bed for both of us.

High temp today=78 Lights out: 10:51pm

Awake: 7:11am Temp 69 Early morning rain Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Drive the Suzuki to Indiana, PA (30 min) & join the Footes @ Saint Thomas
Moore University Church for 9:30am Mass. This was the last mass said by
Reverend Michael…who is being transferred after 7.5 yrs @ this location.
He must have been a good guy…the church was packed. During the Mass &
especially after the homily, eyes watered and tissues were in use
everywhere. The choir, the band, the heartwarming & touching homily….all
fed into this happy but sad occasion of Father Michael leaving. It was
fantastic to see & experience so much admiration & love being displayed by
so many people. Kathy and I could have used a tissue ourselves and we
didn’t even know him!

Afterward, we follow the Footes to meet their realtor, Lisa, @ the 1st
house for sale not far from downtown Indiana. Built in 1964 & in good
shape with a small back yard. It was obvious that the Footes were turned
off by the one car garage now converted to a family room with a wood
burning fireplace + it had a very small back yard. Otherwise, this house,
I thought, was a pretty nice place with an OK location.

Next we tour house # 2. Now this place is on a busy street but with a
larger fenced in back yard, a patio + more. Built in 1921, there is a lot
more to explore than meets the eye. We must have spent close to 2.0 hrs
scrutinizing every room, closet, nook & cranny + the basement & outside
structure. There are advantages & disadvantages if one should purchase
this place. It has much potential and could be a real showpiece with some
extra work & cleanup. It was obvious to us that the Footes were more
enamored with this place than any of the other homes they have toured yet.

Afterward, we drive downtown & we all have lunch @ the Coney restaurant on
Philadelphia Street. It was kind of fun to tour homes with the Footes.

K & I return to Nicktown….en route, we get a cell phone call from Eliza.
She’s in Redwood City, CA. She wants to talk but I discourage her @ the
moment because our cell signal is going to fade soon….so I take a number
to return her call when we get back to the bus.

I talk a long time with Eliza….she is returning to Singapore from her 2
month tour in the states. We won’t be able to rendezvous with her…this
time. Her father is asking her to return for fear she is beginning to like
America too much. While I talk with Eliza, Kathy makes a trip to the
Waterfalls and brings back 13 gallons of water to put in our motorhome.

9:00 pm dinner: Leftover stuffed peppers with 8 veggie salad & cucumber
High temp today=84 Lights out: 10:52pm

Awake: 5:54am Temp 66 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to 8:00am mass…then join the lively coffee club group. Afterward, I
call & leave a message for Gary & Grace in Kemblesville, PA.

We drive the Suzuki to the town of Lilly (25 min) & talk with my sister
Corinne’s roomies: Sister Patty & Sister Jane. Kathy is in charge of
organizing the cousins’ reunion this year held in the basement of the “Our
Lady of the Allegany” church next door. She checks Corinne’s inventory of
paper products & takes note of what else is needed. Patty & Jane have
planted a good looking garden & they even share some of their fresh
tomatoes, squash & garlic with us. We then grocery shop @ the Wal-Mart &
the Giant Eagle in Ebensburg; then return to our bus.

Melissa calls: they were house shopping today with a realtor & would like
to invite us to join them @ their Saint Thomas More church tomorrow
morning, then look @ 2 houses with them that are for sale. We like this
idea very much.

@ 5:30pm K & I get dressed & attend my 47th high school class reunion @
the Contres-Greer Social Hall in Spangler, Northern Cambria. The reunion
was for classes from 1955 thru 1962 and was well attended. The food buffet
was great; the music terrific for dancing, tho a little too loud. I
enjoyed seeing a lot of my classmates & finding out what they have been
doing since retiring. It was a great evening! I shouldn’t have worn my
tennis shoes though, dancing was difficult.

High temp today=85 Lights out: 12:45am

Awake: 6:43am Temp 65 Early morning rain Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

During the night (3:00am) heavy rain wakes us up. Our roof is a lot closer
to us than most peoples’ roofs are to them so we hear those rain drops. I
have difficulty getting back to sleep….sometime after 4:00am I think.

We walk to 8:00am mass….it was nice that the rain had stopped. Afterward,
we join the coffee gang for over an hr….then Kathy & I exercise in the
community center workout room for 35 min. That felt good for both of us.

After breakfast, Kathy makes a few calls to find a good local doctor that
we will be comfortable with during our visiting time in Nicktown and for
the future. If we are pleased, we will have our records transferred from

Florentz stops by to see if the tall grass has been cut in the lower
field….not yet, but he will stop in later this afternoon to begin dowsing
for another well for us.

Meanwhile, Kathy gathers up our dirty laundry & takes it to the nearby
town (2 miles) to Rouse’s Laundromat & she has the Suzuki washed also…but
not at the Laundromat! She returns @ 3:50pm.

Florentz & I spend about 2.0 hrs dowsing on our property hoping to find a
more reliable location for a well. We both have a nice set of dowsing rods
but my cousin Florentz is the senior expert in the area. We find a few
spots but will definitely check the area again several times. Before my
cousin leaves, I make a call to a well drilling company in Ebensburg & ask
to be listed as there is a backlog for well drilling.

@ 4:40pm Kathy & I leave to meet Florentz & Anna @ their house, then ride
with them to the town of Clymer (20 min) for dinner @ the Stony Bank
restaurant….the same place Kathy had lunch with the ladies on Monday. This
restaurant is owned & operated by Florentz & Anna’s son-in-law, Ron &
their daughter Jolene. As we sit down @ our table @ 6:00pm, I notice that
in this section, nearly every table is full of customers. The smoking
section was not as full but the bar/lounge area was very busy. Since the
opening of this restaurant about one month ago, they have built up a
steady cliental Besides Ron, they have 2 other cooks & usually 4/5
waitresses working. Kathy & I share crab cakes with a baked potato, some
veggies & a salad. All very good! I was curious to see, taste & experience
the Stony Bank restaurant & I was most impressed & satisfied.

En route back to F & A’s, we stop & visit with their son Victor, his wife
Chris & their son Andrew. I haven’t been to Victor’s home since 1988 and
it was interesting to see the improvements he has made. All together, it
was a fun evening.

Today’s high temp=78 Lights out: 11:25pm

Awake: 5:02am Temp 60 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Melissa calls @ 7:10am…she is planning on visiting us today. Kathy is
still sleeping so we will talk later about the time for her visit.

We walk to 8:00am mass….then join the coffee gang afterwards. It was a
full room this morning & extra chairs were necessary.

@ 9:50am, I return to the bus…..Kathy stays @ the community center &
exercises in the workout room…….then she walks to the Nicktown hall &
helps to bag noodles for the Homecoming Festival September 4th.

When I approach our property, James, Jerry & Cody have already spread &
leveled another 23.8 tons of modified 2 A stone on the East side of our
circular drive. The 2nd truck is in queue waiting for me to move our
motorhome to the east side so they can dump another load on the west side
of our circular drive. @ 11:10am, they are finished. After walking around
& checking their craftsmanship, I write a check & thank them for their
good work.

Kathy returns from her workout & noodle bagging just before I reposition
the coach back to our original parking site.

Melissa & Matthew arrive for the afternoon. We spend some time inside the
coach……playing with his small cars, carrying pillows from the bedroom into
the living room & vice versa, playing hide and seek with Matthew in the
pillows, & just talking & keeping cool. Then we walk to the school
playground where Matthew plays on the outdoor gym set & slides down the
small sliding board. After that excitement, we briefly tour Melissa
through some of the community center. Next, we walk through the cemetery
where there are a lot of flags still in place from Memorial Day….. Matthew
loves flags. Then, it’s back to our cool coach where we snack & play with
Matthew some more. He is such a smart & loveable young man! They leave
around 4:00pm.

I make a Waterfalls run for another 13 gallons to add to our tank.

7:15pm dinner: BLT’s & fresh veggie salad.

Later evening: Kathy makes numerous calls relating to the cousins reunion
coming up September 2nd.

High temp today=81 Lights out: 11:01pm

Awake: 5:14am Temp 60 Ground fog Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to the local community center & join the small coffee crowd @
8:40am….only us 6 attended.

Afterward, Kathy & I visit Loretta (father Job’s secretary) @ the rectory
& sign up for our membership to the exercise room. I get a free membership
because I am now a real senior (age 65) & Kathy gets a special deal
because she’s my girlfriend…wife. She wastes no time & heads over to get
some workout time in this morning.

I return to the bus & talk with Melissa for awhile & do other required
tasks……then run our well out of water just to make sure it’s for real….it
gushed out some nice water for only 9 min.

When Kathy returns from her exercise, I ask her if she would be my water
girl & make a run to the Waterfalls…because now she’s in better shape. She
returns with 13 fresh gallons. Then I take a nice shower.

Gary & Rosemary call from Saint Augustine….their new home may be ready for
final inspection & moving in before the end of August. We have volunteered
to help move their things from their storage unit….that is why we are
starting a workout program…to be in better shape.

6:40 dinner: Stuffed peppers & ears of corn from the garden of Florentz.

Zack calls & wishes me a “Happy Birthday.” I am delighted to get the call.
I thought perhaps he had forgotten….but now I realize, I think I had the
wrong date for my own birthday?

@ 8:00pm we walk to evening mass….afterwards, we talk with Anna &
Florentz…& later, Allan.
High temp today=78 Lights out: 11:37pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 67 Light rain Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Kathy drives the Suzuki & attends 8:00am mass this morning. She will join
the coffee group and then go to the Nicktown hall where she will help make
noodles for sale at the Nicktown Homecoming Festival on Sept. 4th

I stay in the motorhome & hang around for when the gravel trucks to
arrive…. & they do @ 8:30am along with Jim & 2 helpers: Jerry & Colby.
Each truck has approximately 20 tons of modified 2A stone. They dump their
load while moving to spread the load evenly around part of our circular
drive. Then Jerry uses the skid loader (like a bobcat) & levels the
gravel. These 2 truck loads were not enough to adequately cover our entire
driveway so in a few days when the rain stops, they will return with 2
more loads.

I call my sister Corinne in Maryland…we talk for 30 min or more about her
program & how she is adjusting, etc. This is day 8 for her.

Kathy returns from her noodle making volunteer job @ the Nicktown hall @
1:30pm. She brought me some of the turkey noodle soup with mashed potatoes
that they had for for lunch…. it was very good.

About 3:00pm, I make another run for water…13 gal. Unfortunately, just as
I arrived at the waterfalls, a fellow was there who had just started
filling his 210 gallon tank….his well was dry so he fills the 210 gallon
tank & drains that into his well & has been doing this about every week. I
have to wait close to 40 min before filling our jugs which takes about 10
min or less…..but hey, I’m not complaining. It’s excellent water, it’s
free & it’s only 2 miles from our property.

Back to our motorhome where Kathy helps me pour the water into our pure
water tank.

6:30 dinner: Some more of that delicious noodle soup Kathy brought from
the Nicktown hall earlier….then a BLT sandwich using Florentz’s home grown

High temp today=68 Lights out: 10:18pm

Awake: 6:12am Temp 65 Overcast Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

My Cousin Florentz calls @ 7:25am…he wants to know if Kathy is definitely
going with the ladies to the “Stony Bank” restaurant in Clymer today. She
says: “Yes!”

We walk to 8:00am mass…afterward yak with Max & Diana….they are here in
Nicktown for the summer from Florida.

Then we join the coffee crowd @ the community center for 1.5 hrs. There
were 9 of us…..very entertaining & not 18 conversations at one time.

@ 11:00 am I drive Kathy to Anna’s place; they will drive & meet a car
load of ladies coming from Ebensburg, then Anna will lead the way to the
town of Clymer for their luncheon. I stay for a few minutes & talk with
Florentz & his eldest boy, Jake. The luncheon group consisted of Anna’s
daughters, Mary Lou, Marguerite, and Jolene; and Anna’s sisters-in-law,
Ruth Mary, Lucille, Sue, and Laura Jean plus Laura Jean’s niece and her
daughter from North Carolina, and Kathy.

En route back to the bus, I stop & talk with Vince @ his auto repair shop
in Nicktown. I ask Vince when he might have time for cutting our tall
grass in the lower field on our property. He says: “when cooler air moves

As I sit in our motor home reading an aviation bulletin, Jim S with his
helper Jerry appear in our driveway towing a skid loader on their trailer.
I talk with Jim about the amount of gravel & getting it spread wide around
our circular drive. The longer we talk, the more I begin to wonder: where
are those gravel trucks, Jim? “Oh yes” he says, “they should be here
already.” Jim makes a cell phone call & finds out the # 1 truck has broken
down. Jim & Jerry leave but figure they will return when the gravel trucks

During my wait time for gravel, Florentz arrives. He is going to dowse for
another well for us but before he starts the process, he wants to see our
well water run out of water….so I demonstrate. Between 7 & 9 min has been
the norm that our well gushes water, then stops. Sure enough, it ran for 7
During the water gushing demo, Jim & Jerry return to let me know that the
gravel trucks will not be delivering today because of the problem with the
# 1 truck…but be on the alert for delivery tomorrow morning.

Florentz & I both have dowsing rods so for about 1.5 hrs, we dowse &
tentatively agree on (2) reasonable locations we might consider for
drilling. Then we retreat to the cool air conditioned motor home for a
glass or 2 of wine. We are feeling no pain when Anna (Florentz’s wife) &
Kathy return from their luncheon; they brought some of their leftover
Ruben sandwich for us to share. The girls pitch right in with our little
party…. Anna & Kathy each having a glass of wine & Kathy bringing out
another bottle of wine with more cheese & mixed nuts. This was a fun wrap
up for a day of “not much accomplished!”

After Florentz & Anna return to their home, I make a late water run while
Kathy cleans up the dishes. Another 13 gallons added to our water tank.

High temp today=80 Lights out: 10:30pm

Awake: 6:41am Temp 67 Some clouds Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Kathy makes her special sourdough pancake breakfast this morning. I always
enjoy that meal.

Now that we are energized, we make a water run (2 miles) to the North of
Nicktown & fill 13 one gallon jugs from a spring that, as long as anyone
can remember, has never gone dry. Then using a short 2 ft hose & funnel,
pour the water into our 161 gallon pure water tank. It usually takes
longer to pour the water into the tank than it does to get the water from
the spring.

Anna calls Kathy….she is arranging a luncheon for the ladies tomorrow.

@ 12:45, Melissa rings our doorbell. We are riding with them to
Carrolltown to have the Fire Company’s Annual Jubilee Turkey Dinner. The
meal was very good…. & afterward, we walk around & check the game booths &
other attractions. They had a larger than life blown up clown head
balloon with air circulating and swirling smaller balloons around inside;
Matthew was very brave & went inside by himself for maybe 5 to 8 min
catching & releasing some of the smaller balloons. It was fun to watch him
through the small plastic windows.

Next we watch a parade of the fire trucks from all the nearby towns….. I
should have counted: I bet there were 50 +…… & interspersed with the fire
trucks, a number of marching bands & majorettes from the local high
schools. It was so much better than the 4th of July parade in Mt Shasta
City, CA. The main street was lined with cheering townspeople. We think it
was Matthew’s first fire truck parade ever! When he wasn’t watching the
parade, Matthew was busy walking the hillside where we sat, making contact
with several other spectators, none whom we knew…he’s such a friendly guy.

The Footes bring us back to our bus & we make another run for water to add
13 more gallons into our tank.

We have an evening popcorn snack; enough after our turkey dinner.

Late evening: I call my friend Kenny in McCarthy, Alaska….then call Chong
in Anchorage …then call Katrina in Denver.

High temp today=83 Lights out: 11:37pm

Awake: 5:45am Temp 69 Clear Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to 8:00am mass…afterward we talk outside with Florentz , Rose Marie,
Donna, etc. Then join the coffee club @ the community center for over an

After breakfast, Bernie calls: he has extra tomatoes & green beans: “come
& get em!” he says.

@ 11:30am we visit Bernie, Ethel, Lou Ann, Doris, & her husband, Don @
their homestead (7 min drive) & sit on the outdoor swing for over an hr &
talk about anything & everything. It was a most enjoyable visit.

Then we meet the Footes @ Carrolltown @ 1:00pm & ride with them to Saint
Augustine (20 min) for a visit with Gary & Rosemary. 1st G & R give us a
$5.00 tour of their newly built home which is 90% finished & is a very
functional, livable & well built structure. I was particularly impressed
with the detailed workmanship as was Matthew, I am sure. He did help clean
up a few missed items from the carpenders work area. After the tour, we
visit with them in their 5th wheel trailer; Rosemary serves us healthy
snacks while Gary keeps our wine glasses from running empty. These people
know how to make a few gypsies stay in one place for awhile to relax & be
comfortable…they just keep the snacks coming & the wine flowing. We sure
did appreciate their friendly hospitality.

Just as we are about to leave, Gary digs up an armload of fresh green
beans & cucumbers from the G & R garden for the Footes to take with them.

The Footes leave us off in Carrolltown & we drive our Suzuki back to our
bus in Nicktown.

Kathy & I walk to & attend the 6:00pm vigil mass @ Nicktown.

8:05 dinner: Kathy’s homemade Crab cakes, Florentz’s sweet corn on the
cob, and zucchini & yellow squash, also from Florentz.

High temp today=84 Lights out: 11:17pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 68 High thin clouds Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

We walk to 8:00am mass….then join the local coffee group afterwards. Kathy
shows the Nick & Eriko wedding photos. Frank Presto joins us + his
homeless sister-in-law, Teresa. She was a class behind me in high school
but I don’t remember her. She sold her house in Missouri, has traveled
extensively through the greater part of the world & will be spending 5
months in France studying the language before looking for a home in New
England to be somewhat near her daughter & son. Anyway it was fun talking
with another wandering gypsy like ourselves.

After breakfast, we make phone calls to find a local notary & a place to
have visa passport photos taken.

Call my cousin Florentz & expose our dry well theory…he will schedule a
time to personally check this out.

Drive to the Nicktown hill (3 min) & have Cindy as our notary for getting
the Lexus registered. Then drive to Ebensburg (15 min) & get our mug shots
for our visa’s @ the sheriff’s office in the county courthouse….then some
light shopping @ Wal-Mart & Giant Eagle. Back to our bus @ 3:45pm.

Melissa calls: She would like to rendezvous in Carrolltown @ 1:00pm tomorrow.

6:30 dinner: BLT’s with fresh tomatoes from Florentz & cucumber salad.

Late evening: we call our ole friend Mary in Anchorage. We’ve been
bad….it’s probably been 1.5 yrs since talking with her. She & we were
delighted to make contact again.

High temp today=85 Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 6:52am Temp 67 Intermittent light rain Overnight @ Nicktown, PA

Walk to 8:00am mass…then join the local coffee club afterward (1 hr)….then
to the post office… & back to our bus for breakfast.

The remainder of our morning was taken up with filling out our visa
questionnaires for the various countries we will be traveling to during
our cruise. Kathy did a lot of this paperwork while I filled out the
paperwork for getting our Lexus re-registered in Alaska after missing the

@ 12:55pm we starting driving to Indiana, PA(35 min) to visit the Foote
family…exit on 6th Street & continue until Philadelphia…left on Oakland,
right on Warren, left on Lilac & bingo, there is Melissa & little Matthew
playing outside near their rented studio apartment. Matthew recognizes his
grandmother & “G” daddy immediately & starts running toward us. It felt
strange rendezvousing with the Footes just 35 min from Nicktown….like
surreal, but very special to have some of our family so close.

We spend the afternoon with Melissa & Matthew seeing their rental
hospitality apartment, walking the campus of Indiana University,
PA…walking to main street (Philadelphia Ave) etc. Matthew was fun to be
with: playful, entertaining & constantly learning. We met Kevin getting
out of his computer lab for the day….then back to their apt where we say
goodbye until Saturday.

Back on our property, I sickle some weeds from around the pump house;
switch the circuit breaker to on & out flows a stream of colored water,
then clear water, for about 8 minutes….then, nothing. Just like that, the
water flow stopped! I hear the pump running but no water. Could it be?
I’ll switch off the breaker & try again after dinner.

7:45 dinner: Salmon burger, sautéed zucchini with parmesan cheese & toast.

After dinner, Kathy & I go outside to the pump house & I run more water
from our well. Then…it happens again…..the water stops! I think our well
has dried up. We have heard rumors of a few wells drying up around the
area this summer….not much rain. Ouch! Tomorrow I will call my high tech
cousin to further investigate this dry well theory.

Call our son Zack in Seattle…he sounds good & is enjoying his freedom &
his job.
High temp today=84 Lights out: 11:05pm

Awake 6:17am Temp 66 Light ground fog Overnight @ Navarre, Ohio

Call my aunt Bertha & tell her what Kathy had found out from “Rochester
Park,” the assisted living facility in Navarre. My aunt didn’t leave me
talk too long before she spoke up & said she doesn’t like Navarre as much
as her husband does & they have been talking about their dilemma since our
visit. She said their next move is to get the family together, talk this
problem over &, hopefully, come up with a reasonable solution. I thanked
her for such an open & honest response to this report & will pray for
their continuing reasonably good health & hope to see them again in the

We leave the Baylor Beach campground @ 9:30am. Good driving day today
but…the Ohio roads we traveled on are, for the most part, not that smooth.
No reflection on a biased opinion what-so-ever….as we enter Pennsylvania,
those roads were gentle with us most of the way to Nicktown. We make a
fuel stop @ Hubbard, Ohio just to top off our tanks before camping on &
off our property for nearly a month.

We arrive in Nicktown, PA @ 2:12pm. My nearest neighbor Chuck had trimmed
most of the lower hanging branches on St. Paul Street leading to our
property. Both he & our neighbor Al twice mowed the inner circle of our
driveway, giving it the look of being lived in which was a nice welcome
for us.

Today’s travel: 4+22 time 215.8 miles 28.3 gal 7.64 mpg 50.5 avg speed

After uncovering our shore power, telephone & water connection, I call my
cousin Florentz to let him know we are in town. He was outside but his
wife Anna will give pass along the message.

About 7:15, our door bell rings & it’s my cousin. He has a box of freshly
picked veggies: ears of corn, green peppers, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers,
etc. WOW! I love it when these garden growers over produce in their

Neither of us can remember what we had for a dinner meal this day….bad notes!

We walk to & attend the 8:00pm mass @ Saint Nicholas church. Over 30
people attended.

We call Melissa & agree to visit them in Indiana, PA tomorrow.

Late evening, we call Gary & Grace in Landenberg, PA & talk for an hr.

Today’s high travel temp=84 Lights out: 11:39pm

Awake: 6:55am Temp 66 Ground fog Overnight @ Navarre, Ohio

My brother Don calls & wishes me a “belated happy birthday!” He is en
route to Bedford, PA to work with a client. We talk for 13 min. He & his
wife Josie will be traveling later this week…in different directions, but
will both be returning on the 20th.

We start our visit with Mark & Joan @ 10:30am. 1st a mini tour of their
back yard: the blue berry bushes that are protected by netting, a quick
look @ their garden & change in landscaping by the driveway…then we park
ourselves in their shaded patio and, while sipping lemonade, we catch up
on “what’s been happening with our lives & our families” since last yr.
This took the rest of the morning, afternoon & a good deal of the evening.
Joan made (2) good meals: a lunch of tuna sandwiches with garden grown
corn on the cob and a dinner of garden grown peppers stuffed with
hamburger meat, rice, & tomato sauce & a salad made with their home grown
cucumbers. The finishing touch to dinner was a homemade pineapple
cheesecake and coffee.

Mid afternoon, Kathy spent some time on the phone calling an assisted
living facility in Navarre & making notes that might be of interest for
Aunt B. & Uncle J.

We really enjoyed our rendezvous with Mark & Joan; talking, laughing &
catching up with their lives & their family activity. It was a very good
day. We leave @ 8:30pm & drive back to the bus.

Today’s High temp=? Lights out: 10:13pm

Awake:7:30am Temp 69 Cloudy Elevation ? Overnight @ Navarre, Ohio

Kathy does 3 laundry loads this morning including the bed sheets.

After making calls to my Uncle Johnny, my Aunt Aggie & Mark & Joan, we
agree on a visit with both aunts & uncle this afternoon & most likely a
visit with M & J tomorrow.

Before breakfast, Kathy gets on the computer & confirms our one-way
Southwest tickets from San Diego, CA to Seattle, WA…..getting in position
for our cruise & to visit our boys & daughter-in-law.

When talking with Mark earlier, he asks me if I have been outside yet this
morning. “No” I tell him. “You haven’t even opened your door?” “No!” I
tell him again. “Well, maybe you should at least open your door & look
down by the steps.” “Ok, while I am on the phone I’ll do that right now.”
I didn’t understand why or where this was all leading to until I spotted
an envelope lying in the grass.

Mark had sent this birthday card to Alaska the last week of July hoping it
would be forwarded to us by 7 August. The letter was returned: Moved left
no address…unable to forward…return to sender. So Mark received it back on
Saturday & drove by our motor home earlier this morning & dropped it off
by our doorsteps. This was pretty thoughtful of Mark; it was a very nice
card & eloquent letter. He didn’t know that the Foote’s had moved to PA.

@ 12:30pm we drive to Massillon (30 min) & spend 1.5 hrs talking with my
Aunt Bertha (93) & my Uncle Johnny (88). This visit was different than
any other we had ever experienced: My aunt was frustrated….she is legally
blind so she can’t cook, clean, shop or do many other things. The
arthritis in her hands also makes it difficult for her to do many things,
such as buttoning buttons, zipping zippers, etc. My Uncle John is
frustrated because his arthritis is also becoming more painful. He can’t
help his wife like she needs. Our conversation turned to their assisted
living needs with the sober talk of “something has to change soon!”

So we left these two on not such a happy note. We will talk with them
again tomorrow.

Next, we visit my Aunt Aggie & her daughter, Betty Ann. Aunt A. is 90 &
has difficulty walking, hearing & seeing. She is also taking chemo
treatments for Lymph node cancer. The big difference here is Betty Ann:
she is the-live in assistant caretaker for her mom & does a really good
job. This was a good 2 hr visit.

It’s tough & sometimes gut wrenching to watch one’s last living uncle &
aunts grow old and have these physical handicaps & limitations. And, with
nothing wrong with their minds & speech, it seems so out of character to
realize they are not young seniors anymore.

6:25 dinner: Alaska salmon burger with brown rice, asparagus with orange &
walnut vinaigrette & Caesar salad.

Evening time: No movie, no TV….just a little computer time for both of us.

Today high temp=88 Lights out: 11:00pm

Awake: 5:10am Temp 69 Some ground fog Elevation 741 ft
Overnight @ Fithian, Illinois.

This is a very quiet campground…. & not much traffic running on the
nearest highway. Only 3 RV units spent the night here, so it’s obviously
not a popular hangout but it did work for us. Negotiating around the many
trees & overhanging limbs while driving to our parking site does put a big
“NO” for future reference.

Leave the 5 Bridges RV Park @ 6:40am….our new 2nd earliest departure time
yet, beating out yesterday. As we are heading east toward Indianapolis
this morning, we couldn’t help noticing….a lot of traffic on I-74. 2 hrs
later, we discover there is a NASCAR race today @ the Indianapolis
speedway. I didn’t think it was the Sunday going to church crowd! Both
Iowa & Illinois interstate highways were rough over 40% of the time…
far, Ohio is a little better.

My sister Corinne calls from Lilly, PA with birthday wishes for my special
day. Son Nick calls with a birthday wish from him & Eriko….they are en
route to Lake Washington to watch the Blue Angeles air show today in

Katrina calls from Denver, CO with birthday wishes for my special day & we
did some highly technical car talk also.

We arrive @ the Baylor Beach Park in Navarre, Ohio @ 2:51 local time. From
a distance, we see hundreds of cars parked in fields, parking spots & in
the campground…then we see hundreds of people in the water park, lying on
the grass, everywhere. This is the 4th time visiting this park but the 1st
time witnessing the summertime/ weekend water park activity. The
organization has to be fantastic….as this is a family owned & operated

After parking, Melissa calls from Indiana, PA with birthday wishes.

All these special calls for me today on my birthday make me feel really
generous so I decide to take Kathy out for dinner in Massillon, Ohio. We
went to “Rocknes,” a good restaurant where we shared an old fashion
meatloaf dinner.

En route back to our motor home, we do a little shopping @ Wal-Mart.

Today’s travel: 7+10 time 400.6 miles 45 gal 8.9 mpg 56.6 avg speed

Travel high temp=84 Lights out: 11:31pm

Awake: 6:10am Temp 62 Clear Overnight @ Lincoln, Nebraska

Leave the Camp-A-Way RV Park @ 7:05am…our 2nd earliest departure time yet.
We’ve been spoiled with smooth roads nearly all week through NV, UT, WY, &
NE but, today on I-80 through Iowa, we are not impressed…..50% of our
travel, rough roads.

We arrive @ the 5 Bridges RV Park in Fithian, Illinois @ 5:03pm. We didn’t
know what to expect @ this campground…. big rig friendly (NOT). It is
however, a unique place & very country amidst the cornfields.

Today’s travel: 9+42 time 561.5 miles 60.88 gal 9.22 mpg 58 mph avg

No sooner did we get parked & my sister Mary Jo calls from Lodi, CA with
birthday wishes for me one day early.

We both shower @ the campground facilities, which were very nice.

8:16 pm Dinner: Chicken breast & Italian stir fry vegetables.

Some computer e-mail late evening.

High travel temp=90 Lights out: 10:45pm

Awake: 7:10am Temp 67 High thin clouds Elevation 1216 ft
Overnight @ Lincoln, Nebraska

1st thing this morning, I call our Anchorage message service & find out
that the Foote’s have a solid offer on their condo.

Call my Aunt Aggie in Ohio & my Uncle John + Aunt Bertha also in Ohio for
a head’s up to expect a visit early next week….but we will call before
coming over.

Call Mark & Joan in Ohio…also for a head’s up on a visit.

Call Charles in Nicktown…to be on the alert for our coach driving into the
neighborhood in the middle of next week.

I spend a lot of the early afternoon composing a letter to my buddy Mike
in Anchorage who is having a retirement celebration on Sunday. Mike is
retiring from 25 + yrs with Federal Express & I can’t be there.

Call the 5 bridges RV Park in Illinois to confirm space availability for

Watch movie on Cable: “The Philadelphia Story” with Katherine Hepburn,
Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. The journal police have detected an error
on Wed., Aug. 3; the 1941 5 star movie, “Sullivan’s Travels” starred Joel
McCrea and Veronica Lake and it was actually “The Philadelphia Story” that
we had recently watched. Could the cause of such an error be the
excitement over our son’s birthday, the altitude, the heat, or, maybe, the

High temp today=90 Lights out: 10:58pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 59 Cloudy Elevation 6110 ft Overnight @
Cheyenne, WY

We had some rain falling on our coach after midnight but it didn’t wake us
up. And we were organized this morning for a change, so we actually
enjoyed a relatively early departure. Leave the A B Campground in
Cheyenne, WY @ 8:05am…& yet another smooth travel day on I-80 eastbound.
En route we did have a cornering headwind which had me holding the
steering wheel with a good correction for a few hrs.

Our Sprint cell phone coverage along I-80 so far has been limited to the
larger cities, so this morning in Cheyenne, we left too early to make any
reservations for our next campground….so we make a 10 min stop @ a rest
stop where Kathy calls & reserves a camp site. As it turned out, there was
plenty of vacancy when we arrived.

Arrive @ the Camp-A-Way in Lincoln, Nebraska @ 5:00pm which is big rig
friendly with a lot of old tall trees in a quiet area of town.

Today’s travel: 7+41 time 442.0 miles 44.5 gal 9.93 mpg 57.7 avg speed

8:00pm dinner: Kathy simply serves us the left-overs of yesterday’s filled
peppers for our meal.

High travel temp=? Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 7:05am Temp 53 Clear Overnight @ Evanston, WY

We leave the Phillips RV Park @ 8:40am…..another smooth traveling day for
us. Interstate 80 thru Nevada, Utah & Wyoming so far has been great. Most
of our travel today was @ an elevation between 6000 ft to 7600 ft with a
lot of sparse high plains & many snow fences.

We arrive @ the AB Campground in Cheyenne, WY @ 3:00pm. Another place
where we were glad to have made a reservation….the big rig section was
completely filled before 5:00pm.

Today's travel: 6+18 time 354.2 miles 35.3 fuel 10.05 mpg 56.3 mph avg

We walk the campground area for 40 min of exercise.

I talk with Katrina for 39 min about buying a good used car + other topics
of interest.

Call Nick in Seattle & leave a “Happy Birthday!” message.

7:25 Dinner: Filled peppers, green beans with artichoke + toast.

We watch movie on cable: “Sullivans’s Travels” with Jimmy Steward; Cary
Grant & Katharine Hepburn.
We had watched this movie…..not too long ago, but what the heck, it’s a 5
star movie & the price was right!

High temp today=80 Lights out: 11:10pm

Awake: 5:05am Temp 56 Cloudy Elevation: 6838 ft Overnight @
Evanston, NV

Casual morning for us…..we decided to stay in Evanston an extra day
because: 1) it’s a nice town that has a lot of history that we can walk
to; 2) it’s cool here & we have been missing our cool.

During the morning hrs, Kathy irons the clothes I wore in Japan while
watching her TV programs….& I start catching up on some paperwork stuff.

@ 2:40pm we walk into the town of Evanston (20 min), Population approx 11,
500. We are armed with a good map & booklet of the downtown area showing
the historic buildings & their past & present functions. We spend over 2
hrs doing this self guided walking tour. It was just as interesting &
fascinating as the many other historic towns we have done over the yrs.

The best part for both of us was seeing the Union Pacific Railroad
Complex…erected in 1912 of brick & glass. A lot of glass….the roundhouse
itself has 8400 windows glazed in wooden sashes & they were cleaned inside
& out each spring. This roundhouse is the last one left wholly standing on
the Union Pacific Line. This roundhouse also has 28 locomotive stalls
accessible by an electric turntable which still works. The place was
awesome! The town has been renovating some of these shops to “like new”
condition. One very large building that has been completely restored is
currently used as a wedding hall, community meeting center, large private
party room, etc. We should have brought a camera.

En route back to our campground, we stop in @ the County Fair again to
scrutinize the exhibit building….which had many good displays representing
the local talent.

Outside, we notice some very dark clouds playing catch-up from
yesterday…so it’s back to our home on wheels to retract the slides, close
windows, etc. Our timing was good: Rain, wind & lightning was upon us for
over an hr.

7:20pm Dinner: Pork chops with brown & wild rice, apple sauce, 4 bean
salad, broccoli & fresh salad.

We watch a double feature movie on cable: “Honeymoon in Vegas” with
Nicholas Cage & James Caan. Also: “Forever Young” with Mel Gibson. We
enjoyed both of them.

High temp today=78 Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 5:30am Temp 68 Sunny Elevation: 4362 ft Overnight @
Winnemucca, NV

Leave the Family owned Winnemucca RV Park @ 8:18am. We continue driving on
I-80 eastbound….. & we are still mesmerized by these smooth roads….they
are fantastic! Originally we had programmed today’s destination to be Park
City, Utah…but, as we are moving along so effortlessly with light winds &
dark clouds behind us to the West, we figure we might as well extend our
destination to even higher ground in our attempt to keep cool….to
Evanston, Wyoming.

Passing through Salt Lake City, Utah both Kathy & I talk with Katrina in
Denver, CO about the strategy of buying a good used car.

Arrive @ another family owned campground: Phillips RV Park @ 4:58pm
mountain time.

Today’s travel: 7+40 time 432.7 miles 54.4 gal 7.95 mpg 56 mph avg speed

Luckily we had made a reservation for this campsite en route; we were able
to get the last pull-thru available today. After parking & opening our
slides, we do the Bear River State Park’s 3 miles along the
river, but we only do 1 mile. Then we stroll over to the County Fair
grounds & watch the young boys & girls rope calves @ the rodeo event. This
campground is very near to the city & within easy walking distance.

8:35 Dinner: Alaska salmon burgers with brown & wild rice, broccoli & salad.

It wasn’t easy but I talked Kathy into letting the dishes wait until the
morning for cleanup…I am tired!

High travel temp=87 Lights out: 10:01pm

Awake: 7:40am Temp 68 Sunny Overnight @ Lodi, CA

We both slept a little later than we had planned…so our “early start”
traveling program is off to a slow start.

We leave the Lodi/Stockton RV Park @ 10:00am…..good day to travel, except
the I-80 eastbound from Sacramento to Reno, NV was rough riding. Then from
Reno to Winnemucca, NV was just the opposite: It was so smooth that Kathy
even drove the motor home for 30 min while I took a break. We make a fuel
stop @ Winnemucca @ the Flying ‘J” taking on 182 gallons. That tank of
fuel took us 1,274 miles.

As we leave Sacramento, Kathy talks on the cell phone to our good friends,
Marge & Tom in Grand Junction, CO for about 20 min. We hope to see them in

While passing by Reno, Kathy talks with Melissa in Indiana, PA for maybe
30 min.

We arrive @ the Winnemucca RV Park @ 5:00pm. Nice place, big rig friendly
& family owned.

Today’s travel: 6+30 time 335.5 miles 42.8 gallons 7.81 mpg 52 mph avg

7:30 Dinner: Fillet mignon with blue cheese, asparagus, sugar snap peas &
cherry tomatoes in balsamic glace, French green beans & baby carrots in
Boursin cheese.

Lights out: 11:01pm

Awake: 6:22am Temp 66 Clear Overnight @ Lodi, CA

I sleep well, however Kathy thinks she might be having jet lag. She was up
& awake during the night for several hrs.

Mid morning we start grocery shopping to replenish our food supply: 1st,
Trader Joes in Stockton…..then Costco, also in Stockton.

Back in our campground, we visit Frank & give him the “Gold’s Gym” muscle
shirt from Nagoya, Japan for keeping a close eye on our coach while we
were away. Before we left for Japan, Frank told us he had a “Gold’s Gym”
shirt from the West Coast & the East Coast …but now, he has one from the
Far East Coast. He appeared quite happy to get his new shirt.

We meet my sister Mary Jo & husband Ed @ Saint Anne’s church in Lodi &
attend 5:30pm mass. Afterward, the 4 of us go out for dinner; Kathy & I
share an eggplant parmesan meal & we talk some more about our Japan
adventures. Then we say our “goodbyes for now” to Ed and Mary Jo & head
back to our campground…stopping @ the nearby Safeway to buy soy milk for

While Kathy pays tonight’s camping fee & visits Christy @ her new on site
managers home to show her some wedding photos, I clean our front
windshield & store the water filters for travel tomorrow.

Lights out: 11:30pm

Awake: 5:24am Cloudy Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

6:25am Breakfast….they opened early...we were ready & we take our regular
seats. @ 7:30, I am finished & return to our room to finish packing. Kathy
stays to greet the kids & Mary Jo.

We say our “goodbyes” & “thank yous” to the Café staff for taking such
good care of us during our 10 day stay. We also exchange a few e-mail
addresses before leaving. They were very dedicated & hard workers & they
really enjoyed seeing Matthew each & every day.
Leave the Cypress Gardens Hotel @ 9:42am….a quick 40 min jumbo van ride to
the airport for 7 of us + Matthew. The Footes have a 12:30pm departure to
Narita, then Seattle where they will visit Nick, Eriko & Zack during part
of the day, then continue on their journey to Washington, DC…then
Pittsburgh & a drive back to Indiana, PA. After they check their baggage @
Northwest, we say our goodbyes, wish them a safe & comfortable trip & look
forward to seeing them in PA.

We rode to the airport together to cut costs so now we remaining 5 have 6
hrs to kill before our flight departs for Vancouver, B.C. We find a nice
corner with extra air conditioning & settle in. Zack gets out a deck of
cards & we play hearts for approx 3 hrs….including a bagel break around
2:00pm. 1st game, I lose big time…Kathy wins. 2nd game was better, I come
in 2nd. We check our bags @ Air Canada @ 2:30….go through security &
start touring the duty free shops. Kathy, Katrina, Mary Jo & Zack all buy
some souvenirs. I simply buy a 500 ml bottle of Remy Martin & get a free
Remy Martin pen with the purchase. Now that’s good shopping!

@4:00pm Zack, Katrina, and Kathy buy some chicken & rice to stave off
their hunger pains. Mary Jo snacks on some cheese and crackers.

We are airborne @ 5:15pm. This will be a 9+06 hr flight from Nagoya to
Vancouver. We were delighted to have had our plans work out so well during
our 10 days in Nagoya, so we were content to just relax en route to

During our Vancouver transition, we say our goodbyes to Zack for now (he
will be flying to Seattle in 4 hrs) then we board our 2 hr flight to San
Francisco. @ San Francisco, we say our goodbyes to Katrina (she will be
flying to Denver in 3 hrs) & we take the hotel shuttle back to the Hampton
Inn, get into our Suzuki & drive to Lodi via the San Mateo bridge route.
It’s Friday…& we get into a lot of traffic. It takes us slightly over 3
hrs to travel the 110 miles to Mary Jo & Ed’s home. Talk with Ed for a few
min (we will see them tomorrow) & do some light grocery shopping @ the
nearby Raley’s, then back to our bus @ 7:15pm. Our home on wheels looks
good…all systems working normal. I call my message service in Anchorage:
Stacy sold our RAV 4 for a good price.

Late dinner: Chicken breast from Raley’s. It’s good to be back.

Lights out: 11:00pm

Awake: 5:53am Clear Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

6:30am breakfast…..biggest crowd we have experienced yet in this café. We
didn’t get seated into our regular table area because again, they opened a
little early anticipating a large attendance. I leave @ 7:30 to do some
pre-packing of our suitcases. Kathy hangs out & waits for the rest of our
family + Mary Jo….returning @ 9:30.

We all meet Eriko & Nick @ 10:30 in the lobby. We have been invited for
lunch with Mr. & Mrs. Togari, their youngest son Shogo & youngest daughter
Aine. This is a farewell lunch for Eriko & Nick & for us as well as a
birthday celebration for Nick (8-07) and Eriko (8-23). Nick & Eriko are
leaving today @ 5:00pm for Seattle, WA.

Guided by Eriko, we take the JR Chuo Honsen line from our Kanayama station
to Ozone station (15 min), & then walk for approximately 15 min to the
“Tokugawaen Garden” area where we pay a small entrance fee & stroll around
the beautiful lake to the rendezvous point.

The Togari’s are waiting inside the “Kansenro” building where the
restaurant is located. We greet each other, and then take our seat @ the
long table. Mrs. Togari has done her homework again: she sat on my right
side & had a page of things she wanted to tell us i.e. She said how much
she enjoyed my speech @ the wedding banquet & how she feels the same way
as I do about family…..& how much they have enjoyed meeting us…..such a
nice family, etc. We thanked her & complimented them on the very nice
family they have as well. A lot of complimentary statements to each other
ensued. She also had questions written in English & Japanese that she
wanted to ask us…mostly about our return travel & which state everyone
will be traveling to.

Our lunch was more like a western style meal than what we have been
eating. Yes, you guessed it: Mary Jo was very appreciative of eating an
American meal again.

We take a lot of pictures; they take a lot of pictures….then we all say
our “goodbyes” for now. Mr. & Mrs. Togari will be driving Eriko & Nick to
the new Nagoya airport for their departure.

We walk back to the train station…then 3 stops & we are back to our hotel
area. I waste no time in taking a shower….the heat was on. Kathy gets a
phone call: the kids want to find an outdoor souvenir market for
shopping…I say “no thank you” but I’ll bet that Kathy will be interested.
Yes she was & did. 1.5 hrs later, Kathy is hot, sweaty & back inside our
cool hotel for the night. Shower time! Another call from our kids: “Let’s
go find a restaurant for dinner?” “Not this time” we tell them, “we’re
staying inside & eating downstairs tonight.” Mary Jo joined us and Katrina
went to the computer center. The rest of the kids did find another
restaurant and souvenirs. They call to invite us to Katrina and Zack’s
room, “bring a cup and join us for ice cream sundaes!” They bought 2 half
gallons of ice cream and chocolate topping; what a nice treat!

The Footes retire to their room while Kathy, Zack, Mary Jo, Katrina, and I
stay to play a game of “Hearts.” I don’t remember who won, but it was fun.
A nice ending to another good day!

Lights out: 11:07pm

Awake: 6:04am Some distant clouds Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

Our breakfast starts @ 6:32am …..Already there were some 20 people in
line… with some seated. We suspect the café opened a little early. We sit
& eat for 1.5 hrs & eventually our gang shows up & eats breakfast also.

@ 8:45am to 9:45am we assemble in the lobby for picture taking. Don &
Josie + Corinne are soon on their way to the new Chubu Int’l airport via
the jumbo van taxi service. They are leaving a few days earlier because of
commitments back in Pittsburgh, PA. We say our goodbyes & bon voyage
etc…then try to figure out what are we going to do today.

Kevin is almost back to normal after he made numerous bathroom calls
yesterday afternoon, evening, & night from drinking so much water. It’s
good to have him back.

Kathy & Katrina went shopping for some healthy snacks so I join our
dwindling gang for some snacks of cheese, melon from the Togari’s & man’s
Pockey sticks, coated with dark chocolate.

Soon afterward, Nick & Eriko have a plan to meet in the hotel lobby @
5:00pm for dinner near the hotel.

A 5 min walk to the “Shirokia” Karaoke room & meals restaurant. Matthew,
who has been a fantastic good guy all of these days…going with the flow,
flexible, tolerant, tenacious, etc….suddenly slammed on the brakes when we
were asked to go up 3 flights of stairs to our karaoke room. Kathy tried
carrying him up the stairs but after one flight of loud screaming,
kicking, twisting of the body etc. she gave him back to Melissa. Melissa
reported that he wanted to climb the stairs himself, but once she calmly &
patiently talked with Matthew about how many stairs there were to climb
and let him climb a few, he quieted down…then she brought him upstairs
where he joined our smaller numbered gang. Ah, developing independence!

We didn’t come to this place to do karaoke….just to eat & eat we did. Our
meals were an accumulation of small dishes selected from a large picture
menu with very small print. Eriko, Nick & Zack did most of the selecting
with approval from the rest of us. Eriko would use the telephone in the
room to summon the waitress, who would come to our room and take our order
from Eriko (only Japanese spoken here). A short time later she would open
the door to our room and deliver our food. This repeated several times.

Matthew kept himself busy pushing buttons on the karaoke equipment &
making lights flash now & then until he finally turned on the unit & Eriko
quickly jumped to the rescue to shut the unit off. When Matthew did begin
to eat, the good food kept him engrossed near the table area where Kevin &
Melissa were sitting. This style of eating again reminded me of the fondue
way of eating in that we had plenty of time between servings to just sit &
talk. It was a fun evening and a different & tasty style of dining.

Walking back to our Cypress Garden Hotel, the temp & humidity were the
most pleasant since our arrival 8 days ago. That typhoon passing nearby
gets all the credit.

Lights out: 10:43pm

Awake: 5:15am Light rain & wind Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

Breakfast @ 6:30 sharp…. & again, we are # 1 & # 2 in line. We hang around
for 2.5 hrs & kibitz with the rest of our gang when they show up for

The typhoon winds & rain are now in the area but not near as strong as was
forecasted. So we figure, with these winds & rain, the temp should be more
comfortable for walking around…so a shopping we will go. Back to the Daiei
store for 9 more jars of Nescafe Excella Instant Coffee. We also look
around for a silk scarf for my cousin but none to be had in this store.
Next we find our way into the Gold’s Gym of Nagoya where we buy a muscle
shirt for Frank back in Lodi, CA. We think he may be collecting them from
around the world.

Mid afternoon, nurse Kathy is called into action: Kevin is not feeling
well & his body temp is registering 102.4. Kathy suspects that Kevin
became de-hydrated yesterday @ the World Expo by not drinking enough
water….becoming de-hydrated can lead to a fever if not properly treated.

Nick & Eriko call & plan a 5:00pm lobby rendezvous. When we meet, we
realize there is no plan for dinner….but we’ll find something. One minute
up the street & we are passing the Vietnamese restaurant that was booked
up last week…. so tonight we try again. Yes, they can handle our 12.5
group. Kevin is not feeling well & is napping in their room.

We realize this restaurant is special (that means expensive) so all of us
except Nick & Eriko, share a meal….even Don & Josie. Nick & Eriko end up
having more food than they can eat so they share with the rest of us. Our
meals were top notch but it wasn’t enough to squelch the hunger….so some
of our group headed for the store for snacks afterwards. Then back to our
hotel where Kathy & I join Mary Jo, Corinne, Zack & Katrina for the card
game, “Phase 10.” We played for 1.5 hrs & Zack won with Kathy coming in
2nd place. It was fun!
Lights out: 11:18pm

Awake: 5:13am Cloudy Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

Breakfast @ 6:30am….we were # 1 & 2 in line. During breakfast, a Japanese
lady informed me of a typhoon forecasted to hit Nagoya with rain & wind
starting @ 3:00pm today. I thanked her for her message & told her I would
consider taking an umbrella along on our tour this day.

Our gang of 13.5 agreed to meet in the hotel lobby @ 8:30am & to have lots
of Japanese yen + get an umbrella from the front desk. We are going to the
2005 World Exposition @ Aichi near Nagoya today (1+10 min) by train. Plus
today, we are honored to have the newlyweds along with us. They attended a
party with Eriko’s High School friends last night that lasted into the wee
hrs & didn’t get much sleep but wanted to accompany & guide us to the Expo

We are happy to have Eriko as our guide….as it was tricky train travel (2
lines) + the newly developed Levitation train (no wheels).

We were forewarned that the Expo would be very crowded…..that turned out
to be a conservative assessment, it was super overcrowded! It took us 45
min to pass thru the North gate. A massive crowd + the security check
slowed the process. Once inside, we agree to each do our own thing. Even
though a typhoon is forecasted, the heat is on & the sun is shining in &
out of the clouds. We’ve been in Japan for 6 days now & we’re still not
accustomed to this heat & humidity. I talk Kathy into seeing the “wonder
circus-electric power pavilion.” The line was long & snaked back & forth
quite a lot but the sign advertised it would be 18 min until entering the
bldg. Well, it literally took an hr. What we didn’t realize was: once
inside the bldg, the line continued to snake in a tier type arrangement.

The ride was great! The cars were on tracks & went through space, under
the sea, through a forest that turned into 4 seasons of weather, through a
giant kaleidoscope, etc. Now, was the hr wait in that heat & humidity
worth the 10 min ride? Kathy says “no way!” I say: “let’s do it again!”
No, really, that isn’t quite what I said but I did tell her I want to see
more of these marvels but maybe not spend quite so much time in line.

Now these promoters of these Expos do try to keep the crowd from
dehydration & heat strokes by giving out free cups of water & providing
some overhead awnings on the waiting lines + an occasional air
conditioning system blowing cool air overhead & in some resting areas, dry
mist generators…. it wasn’t near enough for us wimps however, we had the
“hots” & the “sweats!”

Nearly everything I had selected from the book of activities & high tech
things to see & do was contaminated by long lines…. & that turned Kathy
off pronto.

After the electric power pavilion, I got in a little shorter snaking line
to the superconducting maglev railway theatre pavilion using the 3D image.
Kathy would catch up with me in line after taking a bathroom break &
getting more water for our bottles.
The line moved a lot faster & the theater was air conditioned with seats.
It was amazing to see this film about the testing & getting the highest
speed award (over 500 mph) for a maglev train.
Next we take to the skies for a gondola ride. Then visit the Pavilion of
France, interesting. Then we walk along the people’s path to pavilions of
other countries.

@ 6:00pm we rendezvous with the rest of our gang. Would you believe…those
wimps all want to return to their hotel & call it a day? Geeesze! We are
the only ones who want to stay until the park closes @ 10:00pm… Eriko
guides them expertly back to their hotel.

Kathy & I continue seeing & experiencing the different pavilions from
other countries: Switzerland, Spain, USA, etc. Plus, as nightfall
approached, many colorful lights were lit everywhere & we watched a laser
water show & a giant screen musical. The crowd did thin out during the
evening but those long lines remained just as long as or longer than ever.

Working together, we found our way back to our Cypress Gardens hotel in a
flawless operation. The Expo experience was terrific but the heat &
humidity, the overcrowded park & the long lines did somewhat subtract from
the enjoyment of the moment.

We are tired. Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 5:53am Cloudy Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

6:30 breakfast. We hangout in the Café for 2.0 hrs & discuss the wedding
memories of yesterday with our gang.

Later, Kathy & I take a 2.0 hr stroll with the Foote’s down the
Fushim-Dori Street to the Higashi Betsuin Temple, then down Otsu-Dori
Street where we pass Don & Josie also taking their walk.

Our group of 11.5 meet @ 12:30pm in the lobby, then take the subway Meijo
Line to Meijo Koen stop which we thought would get us close to the Nagoya
Castle. No sooner did we get off our train when we spotted a sign: “for
Nagoya Castle, get off @ Shiyakusho(city hall).” we take the
next subway train & go back one stop….sure enough, it’s only a short walk
to the North gate from here.

The Nagoya Castle was built in 1612 for the 620,000 members of the Koku
Owari Tokugawa family & it symbolized Nagoya’s pride & power at that time.
After paying our 500 yen ( about $5.00), I am reading the brochure while
walking toward the Castle & realize that this huge castle in front of us
was bombed & burned completely to the ground in 1945 during WW-II. This
was disappointing to me & my brother…it’s a rebuild & not the real thing.
We did climb all 7 stories however, but spend little time inside…it
appeared a little too modern.

About 10 yrs ago, I had taken a tour with some Japanese pals who took me
through the Osaka Castle. It was exciting because it was the original &
had been well preserved.

From the castle, we stroll out the North gate of the castle grounds & walk
over toward the arena & follow the crowd lining up to get into the huge
stadium where the championship sumo wrestling is taking place today. Mrs.
Yasuko Togari had purchased tickets many months ago for us to be able to
see this special event. With a little help from the inside ticket masters,
we find our way to our reserved seats with a great view of the sumo ring.
Not only great seats but this huge stadium has good air conditioning.

When the 1st wrestlers entered the ring, I expected the bout to begin
right away. Instead they spent maybe 5 minutes or more tossing salt on the
mound & squatting in order to tip their bodies to one side & raise a leg
high in the air before slamming it down. From time to time they crouched,
glowering into each other’s eyes, but just when I thought they were going
to charge, one would stand & stroll away to scoop up another handful of
salt. Finally, when I wasn’t expecting it, it happened. They slammed into
each other, grabbing @ loincloths; but within an instant, one had shoved
the other off balance & the match was over. This competition scenario
repeated itself for hrs with the crowd applauding or booing. The pomp &
circumstance procedure of this ritual was as fascinating as the bout
itself and certainly lasted longer!
We had been watching the wresting for about an hr when Nick & Eriko joined
our group with their reserved tickets.
Katrina sat near a young girl who had spent a few yrs @ Michigan State
University, spoke fairly good English & was able to answer our questions
about “what’s happening now” during many of these wrestling events. We
were thankful to Mrs. Togari for her thoughtful planning.

Nick & Eriko had other plans for the evening so our group heads for the
subway & we find our way to the Hard Rock Café in Nagoya. This was an
exciting meal for my sister Mary Jo: American food which she has been
missing. Most of us had the Hard Rock Café’s BIG burgers. We walk back to
the subway around 7:00pm & easily find our train route back to our Cypress
Gardens Hotel.

Another exciting day for us, especially seeing those BIG Sumo wrestlers
wrestle each other inside that little tiny ring.

Lights out: 9:47pm

Awake: 4:05am The wedding day Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

Kathy & I start eating our breakfast @ 6:30 sharp…..then hang around until
9:15am & talk with the rest of our gang.

Nick has a taxi pickup @ 1:00pm. The rest of us have a casual morning:
Don & Josie go walking; Zack & Katrina have a Frapaccino @ the nearby
Starbucks & my sisters, Corinne & Mary Jo, hang out in their room after
breakfast. Kathy & I do some casual reading & organizing of our clothes.

@ 1:45pm, we 11.5 rendezvous downstairs, dressed nicely & wait for our 3
taxis to arrive & take us a short distance (15 min) to Nagoya’s Spiritual
Oasis: Atsuta Jingu where the marriage of Eriko & Nick will occur.

The taxis drop us off @ the front entrance but, not quite knowing where to
go, we walk down a wide main gravel path about 500 ft to a crossroad.
Today’s no different weather wise than any other day…it’s very hot & humid
& we are quickly beginning to perspire. While trying to decide which way
to proceed, Kevin notices white bows tied to trees on the left. Could this
be a sign? We follow this wide gravel path to the next intersection. Now
what? We see other bridal parties, buildings, a main shrine & try to talk
with some people, none of whom speak English.

Kevin, our hero, runs off & returns with the info & a map we need. We
proceed to a large building & timidly go inside where 1st we’re greeted
with “air conditioning” & then we see our son, Nick, & we know: this is
the place!

We spend about 30 min here meeting some of the Togari extended family
(grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles). We also admire Nick in his
traditional formal wedding Kimono (montsu kihako) & take some pictures.
Then we are instructed to line up behind Nick; father 1st, then mother,
siblings, aunts & uncles. Meanwhile the Togari family is also lining up to
our left, behind the space where Eriko will be.

And now, all heads right as Eriko & her female attendant make their entry.
Eriko is beautiful in her white wedding kimono & special headdress (tsuno
kakushi). Her makeup & serious facial expression give the appearance of a
walking porcelain doll.

The procession of Nick, Eriko & her attendant (ma kaizdenin) & the 2
families begins. We walk outside about 300 ft to the main shrine where the
Shinto priest is waiting to greet the bride & groom to be. The families
are instructed that picture taking is not allowed, nor are we allowed
beyond a certain point. However, since this shrine is outside & behind a
low wooden fence, we are able to witness the proceedings.

The priest leads Eriko & Nick up about 5 stone stairs to a table set up
with 2 tamagushi branches. He prayed aloud, blessed them & instructed them
in the turning of the branches in a prescribed manner as he also turned &
moved them while reciting more prayers. This ceremony of prayers &
blessings lasted only about 10 min although I thought it was more like 20
min standing out in the heat & humidity.

After Nick & Eriko leave the sacred shrine area & descend the stairs,
about 30 min is spent outside taking formal pictures of them & the
families. Then we walk back to the main air conditioned building where the
rest of the wedding activities will occur.

Aside: Eriko’s headdress, consisting of plastic hair & a hat with
decorations weighs about 2.5 lbs. Eriko’s female attendant assisted Eriko
whenever walking by supporting Eriko’s hand with hers separated by a
folded white cloth. She also straightened Eriko’s kimono & posed her &
Nick for pictures.

Once back in the building we were taken to a room where the Togari family
was seated on one side & the Kirsch family on the other separated by
foldable screens. We were served green tea while waiting for Nick & Eriko
to arrive. Applause upon their arrival; the folding screens were taken
down & the introductions began. I introduced the Kirsches to the Togari
family & Atsuki introduced the Togari family members to the Kirsches.

It was now time for the actual wedding….again, no picture taking allowed.
Eriko & Nick led the families in procession to the indoor shrine. Before
entering the shrine, Nick & Eriko stopped at a sink just outside the doors
where they washed their hands. Continuing into the shrine, Eriko & Nick
stood in the center, Kirsch family to the right, Togari family to the left
in front of rows of chairs that faced the center aisle. The priest came
from the right side, stood before Nick & Eriko, said prayers &, again,
turned branches. Nick and Eriko sat down while 3 musicians, who had been
silently sitting Indian style on the floor to the left side of the altar,
now played Japanese music using a drum, flute & sticks. Following this the
priest said more & then Nick & Eriko approached the altar. Nick had to
read his vows aloud in Japanese while Eriko stood at his side & responded
simply by stating her name, thus consenting to the vows. Eriko & Nick then
returned to their places in the center aisle.

Now in silence, a young girl poured Sake into a small bowl & handed it to
Nick. He drank 3 times from the bowl then handed it back to the young
girl. She then poured Sake into a like small bowl & gave it to Eriko who
drank 3 sips from it. This procedure continued 2 more times; each time
progressing to a larger bowl. Eriko, due to the weight of her headdress,
was unable to tilt her head back so she sort of thrust the bowl toward her
mouth each time to drink the Sake.

At the end of this ritual, Eriko & Nick again sat down while 2 young girls
in traditional costume performed a celebratory dance on the altar for the
newly married couple. Now it was the families turn to celebrate. Again in
silence, young girls poured Sake into the small cups that had been sitting
on trays in front of each person & we drank our Sake.
The wedding ceremony (30 min) now ended. The new Mr. & Mrs. Kirsch
processed out of the shrine followed by the families.

We went to another room where Nick & Eriko sat at a small table receiving
congratulations from their guests. It was also an opportunity for the 2
families to socialize while some kind of alcoholic drinks were offered by
2 young ladies. Not sure what the drinks were, but they were pretty: pink,
blue or clear served in champagne glasses.

After about another 20 min, we were directed to form a receiving line
outside of the banquet room to greet the guests as they entered; in
order…Kathy, me, Nick, Eriko, Atsuki & Yasuko.

The banquet room was lovely with flowers at each table incl. the head
table. Seating was prearranged with individual place cards at each seat: 2
tables for the Kirsches & each with an English speaking Japanese guest. A
large wedding cake sat on a table next to the head table where Eriko &
Nick would sit. The banquet was a Japanese food & beverage extravaganza;
so many sizes & shapes of plates with different foods & so many glasses
for the different beverages; wow!

Our Japanese interpreters sure helped us throughout the meal to know what
was food and what was decoration and how & when to eat what! The
drinking & eating began before the bridal couple arrived. Then Dr. Yasuda,
our master of ceremonies for the evening, announced their arrival. Eriko
had changed into a beautiful red kimono (red, the color of new beginning)
& a different head piece. She still looked like a live porcelain doll but
now she smiled & talked.

My brother, Don, introduced his nephew, Nick, & did a great job. Of
course, this was translated into Japanese. Then Eriko’s uncle introduced
her in Japanese, translated to English…..and the food & drinks kept

Then Dr Yasuda made an announcement in Japanese, but we were only able to
understand one word, “Foote.” When it was translated to English we all
learned that Kevin was being called upon to give the toast to the
newlyweds. It was a complete surprise to Kevin, but he gave a fine
toast…he’s just a natural!

During the meal, Eriko & Nick were spotlighted while they cut their
wedding cake….then they left the room. We all continued to eat & drink
while watching a picture presentation of Nick & Eriko growing up with
their families…..again narrated in both Japanese & English….very well done
& entertaining.

When Nick & Eriko return they have changed into western attire….they look
like a couple from “Gone with the Wind.” Eriko is wearing a peach, long,
full skirted Southern Bell gown with flowers in her hair and carrying a
ring of yellow flowers. Nick is outfitted in a gray, long jacket & vest
suit with gray patent shoes & white gloves. Eriko & Nick are all smiles &
seem more relaxed now.

Some fun entertainment while we finish our meal & move on to the wedding
cake. Nick & Eriko, Kevin & Melissa, & an aunt & uncle of Eriko engage in
a version of the Newlywed Game. The questions & answers are translated in
Japanese & English of course. Eriko’s aunt & uncle, the longer married
couple, won.

The Togari family has some accomplished musicians: Atsuki entertains us,
playing American songs & some of his own compositions on the marimba…..
Eriko shows us what a beautiful voice she has as she sings an American
song (“Summertime”) accompanied by her father on the marimba & then,
accompanied by her aunt on the piano, she sings Riding on the Wind (Kazi
ni noru).

And now, the final activity of this wedding celebration: Eriko, Nick,
Atsuki & Yasuko, Kathy & I go to the front of the room…, the men
have the final words! First I thank the Togari’s for the wonderful time
they have showed us & wish Nick & Eriko all good things in life. Next,
Nick gets his turn. I almost forgot, Eriko also gave some parting words,
but Atsuki did have the final words for the evening.

We again formed a receiving line just outside the banquet room; Kathy, me,
Nick, Eriko, Atsuki, and Yasuko to bid thanks and farewell to the guests.
Three taxis again took us back to our hotel. Since it is customary in
Japan that the wedding and banquet are attended only by family, Nick and
Eriko now went to a party with her friends.

This was a great day….from start to finish. The wedding planners did such
a terrific job & the events flowed so smoothly, that one would have
thought it was rehearsed over & over again like a series of scenes from
Hollywood. Without a doubt, a wonderful experience to remember.

Lights out: 10:11pm

Awake: 5:05am A few clouds Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

@ 6:30 this morning it’s just Kathy, Nick & me for breakfast. As we are
eating, we spot Katrina & Zack outside the restaurant getting ready for a
jog in the park about 7:00am.

After breakfast, I get right with the finishing touches on the closing
speech I have been writing for the wedding banquet on Saturday. @
10:00am, Nick & I take the 3 sheets of paper containing my speech down to
the front desk & have them faxed to Eriko, who will give them to Dr. Kimo,
who is our translator & master of ceremonies for tomorrow night.

@ 11:40am Nick, Zack, Kathy, Melissa, Kevin, Matthew & I take the train to
the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry & Technology (20 min). The
rest of the gang was not interested in this adventure. We spend all
afternoon in this huge building & we literally run out of time. It was
fascinating, so well developed, so much high tech stuff, so much
history…..we could have used another day easily.

The museum is located @ the site of the former Toyoda Spinning & Weaving
Company Headquarters plant. It was the place where the Toyota automobile
had it’s beginning in 1934. We each paced ourselves differently, and then
when the building was closing for the day, wished we had started @ the
opening time for max hrs. Back to our hotel @ 5:30pm.

My brother, Don & his wife, Josie toured a nearby art museum which they
thoroughly enjoyed.
@ 6:30pm we all (minus Eriko) walk 5 min to the “Alioli Cucina” for
dinner; an Italian restaurant run by Japanese. Don & Josie selected this
hangout. My sister Mary Jo & I split a meal of spaghetti & sauce. Kathy &
Katrina share Fettuccini with tuna & sauce.

Afterward, Kathy & I show Don & Josie where they can buy a bottle of
reasonable wine for under $10.00 US.

Lights out: 10:20pm

Awake: 5:05am High thin clouds Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

Kathy & I are almost the 1st customers in the café @ 6:32am. My sleepy
sisters, Corinne & Mary Jo show up @ 8:00am for breakfast.

Our gang of 11.5 agrees to meet in the hotel lobby @ 10:30am for today’s
adventures by tour guide Nick. Our travel will be by train so some of us
exchange our US dollars for Japanese Yen @ the hotel. Exchange rate: 1.07
yen per dollar. Our nearest train station Kanayama is a 5 min walk from
our hotel….very convenient. Nick instructs our group on getting tickets to
our 1st destination, the JR Central Towers. We must have boarded an
express train because it passed up our intended stop….so we simply caught
the next local train back to the correct stop.

It’s very hot & humid nearly every day here so our tour guide Nick’s idea
of going inside the Panorama House 53 stories up to look out & over the
city sounds good to us. These twin towers are impressive structures: A 51
story office tower complex & a 53 story hotel tower. The elevator ride
from the 12th floor to the 53rd floor took 37 seconds.

What a sight from the top…a 360 degree view of Nagoya. This upper level
area was like a cool weather relief hangout for all of us. Corinne, Mary
Jo & Josie found a nice lounge area while the rest of us kept identifying
several different areas around the city. Matthew had an hrs nap & that was
a good thing.

From the Twin Towers, we take the underground subway to the Nagoya TV
Tower (Hisaya-odori) stop, & eat lunch underground @ the Central Gallrey
shops. We each do our own thing in selecting a restaurant & agree to meet
in an hr. Kathy & I share a piece of breaded chicken & fish + rice as a
take out, then walk over to Tullys Coffee Shop where Kathy has an iced
Latte coffee with her lunch.

After our group rendezvous, Don & Josie inform us they went above ground &
found a beautiful Hollywood Park with the imprinted hands & pictures of
the stars. The rest of us, keeping our underground cool, strolled around
the many shopping areas. Zack was casually noticing all of the beautiful
Japanese girls dressed to the 9’s in high heels. @ 3:00pm, Nick leaves us
to meet with Eriko about wedding plans. Don & I + the others watch
carefully to make sure we take the correct train back to our hotel.

Earlier today Nick had mentioned that Eriko recommended the Vietnamese
restaurant, just across the street from our hotel, for dinner. So @
6:30pm, all 12.5 of us (Nick & Eriko included) walk over to that
restaurant for dinner. Oops, they are booked up…..plan “B” is to eat @ our
hotel restaurant…which was fine. We sit & gab for a few hrs.

Lights out: 10:00pm

Awake: 4:30am High thin clouds Overnight @ Nagoya, Japan

The breakfast coupon indicates the café opens @ 7:00am but when we arrive,
the place appeared to have been active for some time. Already Nick,
Melissa, Kevin & Matthew are eating. 25 min later, Katrina & Zack arrive.
One hr later, my brother, Don, & wife, Josie are here…. & later still, my
sisters, Corinne & Mary Jo. The gang is all here. We find out the café
opens @ 6:30am. We’ll count on that!

After a good breakfast of Japanese & Western food, & after listening to
all the details of other flight travel stories, Kathy & I take a walk to
the nearest large store: Daili. It doesn’t open until 10:00am so we walk
around the area for 35 min….. & then, I find my favorite instant coffee:
Nescafe Excella & make the 1st purchase of 9 jars to take back to the

@ 10:30am we all meet in the hotel lobby, then we take 3 taxi’s to the
restaurant “Shofukaku” where we have a lunch & meet the rest of the Togari
Family; The father, Atsuki, the mother, Yasuko, oldest son, Ken, his wife
Shiori, and their children, Kenta & Sakura; then the youngest son, Shogo,
& their oldest daughter, Eriko, & youngest daughter, Aine. 2 boys & 2
girls…just like us.

This Shofukaku restaurant is a huge one story building. We walked through
many hallways & ended up in the Tempura Room. This was a neat way to get
to know each other, everything we ate was battered in tempura & that took
time to prepare which gave us all more talk time. The Togari’s would tell
us what we were eating if we didn’t know it ourselves. All of it was very,
very delicious….well, most of us felt that way! As it was quite warm,
Yasuko presented each of us with our own foldable Japanese fan; each fan
was a different design and was used quite often.

Afterward, we all walked over to the nearby Nittalji Temple(20 min) & the
only temple in Japan that enshrines some of the holy bones of Buddha
Sakyamuni. After walking inside the temple, tossing a coin & saying a
prayer, we all (except Nick) taxi back to our hotel. Nick had to go with
Eriko and take care of some wedding details.

I need to mention that yesterday after our arrival, Kathy & I received
several boxes of goodies from the Togari family in our room: A good sized
box of fresh mandarin oranges; a good sized box of large grapes; one large
cantaloupe; a bottle of white & bottle of red wine; 2 bottles of apple
juice; 6 large bottles of bottled water & one small bottle of concentrated
lemon juice. Since we have all of these items in our room, we invite the
rest of the gang to join us @ 6:30pm for an evening of healthy snacking &
more family time.

Before the gang arrived, Kathy walked over to the Daiei store & purchased
some crackers & cheese for the occasion.

Around 9:00pm, 2 people were beginning to fall asleep during my brother’s
speeding ticket stories (it had to be the hour, not the story telling) but
it was the signal that the party’s over.

Lights out: 9:45pm

Awake: 4:00am SFO fog Overnight@ South San Francisco, CA

We were planning on taking the 5:30am shuttle to the terminal until
Katrina found out that we will be checking in @ the domestic terminal. Now
there is no rush & we have time to sit down & eat breakfast in the lobby
in lieu of carrying a breakfast bag.

Leave the Hampton Hotel on the 6:10 shuttle for terminal 1(10 min). Our
check in is quick & we are @ the gate @ 6:45am.

SFO to YVR (Vancouver, BC.) 2+00 hrs, arriving @ 9:45am. It’s been 5 yrs
since flying through this airport & the duty free shops have grown
considerably since then. We have a good 2 hrs to look around & sample some
smoked salmon, dark chocolate & cheese.

About 11:30am as we are milling about the duty free shop “Spirit of the
North” the Nuance group of Canada, Nick & Zack casually find us loitering.
Amazing…now we are 6. Both boys look good, relaxed & ready to travel some

We had reserved seats close to each other but when looking @ Nick’s ticket
before boarding the Boeing 767, he was 7 rows behind us. Can’t have
that….so Kathy got right after the young man that had the seat next to
Zack & politely told him that our family was flying to Nagoya for our
son’s wedding, etc. This young man was single & his traded seat was next
to a lovely young girl. We think it was a win-win deal. So now we have
Nick & Zack in 13A & 13C. No middle seat…. Kathy & I in 14A & 14C, and
Katrina & Mary Jo in 15A & 15C. It was nice. It was a long flight(12 hrs)
but the time went quicker then a lot of other long flights because of the
interaction with the boys, Katrina & Mary Jo.

We had 2 complete meals & snacks in between + wine & liquor. We watched 3
good movies: “Quill,” “Roman Holiday,” & “In Good Company.” The boys &
Kathy played a few card games & Nick took lessons on playing bridge from

Our senior steward, Michel, added to our distraction much of the
time…coming up & flirting with the girls, telling good stories, passing
out snacks, etc. At one point, he went toward the rear of the aircraft to
find a nice Japanese girl for Zack but came back with 4 lovelies….telling
them: “there he is: he’s single!” They hung around for maybe 20
min…somewhat blocking the aisle with no complaints. The girls spoke broken
English & Nick helped in the translation. One of the girls, a singer, sang
us a Japanese song which was very nice….we were impressed.

We all napped a little somewhere along the way. I snuck in my 2 hr nap
during a French movie. I also encouraged Mary Jo to get up & walk around
for exercise. It was entertaining for me to see this Michel guy flirting
with the young girls…he’s a very social & positive kind of steward. Any
airline would be happy to have such a fellow on their flights. He has been
a steward for 32 yrs.

Since we have crossed the International Date Line, Tuesday is already upon
We arrive @ the new Chubu Int’l airport in Nagoya, Japan @ approximately

Baggage was slow in getting to the carousal….but immigrations went
quickly. Then…the surprise: Atsuki & Yasuko + Eriko were waiting for
us…..Nick’s future father-in-law, mother-in-law & wife to be. They
introduced themselves to all 6 of us. They are much younger looking then I
expected. Their English is broken but we were able to communicate pretty
well as we walked toward the taxi area. Yasuko and Kathy shared some
laughter as Kathy showed Yasuko her hand written Japanese phrases and
Yasuko showed Kathy her hand held language translator. They had made
arrangements for the 6 of us to be transported via 8 passenger jumbo van
into Nagoya & our Cypress Gardens Hotel (40 min). We get our room
assignments which include a Western/Japanese breakfast for 10
mornings…unpack our suitcases…then talk with our kids & Mary Jo about
having dinner @ the hotel @ 7:00pm.

Kathy has a small pizza; I have a garlic & olive oil spaghetti with
eggplant meal…both very good.

Nick & Eriko stay @ the airport to greet my brother, Don, his wife, Josie,
& our sister Corinne when their flight arrives around 5:00pm….then later,
Melissa, Kevin & little Matthew on their flight around 7:00pm. Due to a
delay of Don’s flight, they all waited for the Footes’ arrival and
traveled to the hotel together.

During our dinner, we talked about waiting for the rest of the group to
arrive…but we couldn’t stay awake. We were both tired. Our phone woke us
about 9:30pm; the rest of our family was in the hotel lobby, but we’ll
have to wait ‘til the morning to greet them.

Lights out: 9:05 pm

Awake: 5:54am Temp 72 Clear Overnight @ Lodi, CA

Talk with Frank, who has been staying @ this campground & working in the
Lodi area, about keeping a close eye on our motor home during our 10 day
absence in Japan. I met Frank just a few days ago & he impressed me with
his knowledge of electricity & mechanics, so I ask him if he would do us a
favor. He was born & raised in Alaska, lived there for over 25 yrs & still
claims Alaska as his residence. He indicated he would be happy to
accommodate us. I checked him out on things to watch for & what to do in
the event of certain problems.

@ 2:45pm drive over to Ed & Mary Jo’s place, say goodbye to Ed & their
youngest son, Matt, for now, load Mary Jo’s big suitcase into our Suzuki &
head for the South San Francisco Airport Hampton Inn(2+35 hrs). Just as we
were walking into the Hampton Inn, Katrina was @ the front desk getting
her room key….good timing. She had a ride to the SFO airport from Santa
Rosa after being a bride’s maid in the wedding party of her friend, Jamie,
and then took the airport shuttle to the hotel. We 4 sit in our shared
room & do catch up talk for awhile…then my brother, Don, called from PA.
He wants a contact phone # in the event anything should go awry during his
travels. It’s a good idea but we don’t have any such number….we just have
to trust all will go well.

Dinner@ the Embassy Suites Hotel next door: Kathy & I split a Cobb salad.

Nice & cool in SFO with the evening fog rolling in. I am in a hotel room
with 3 lovely females.....& I'm cool!

Lights out: 9:35pm

Awake: 6:12am Temp 70 Clear Overnight @ Lodi, CA

Kathy does 2 laundry loads & 45 min of ironing this morning while watching
her TV programs.

We get the suitcases & garment bag out from the basement storage area &
start our packing.

Melissa returns our call from PA. They are reluctant to move into the
rental house across the street from Andrea, so for now they are leaving
their goods in the cargo trailer. They would rather buy a home & move into
something more permanently than have to move their contents twice. They
drove up to Ebensburg & visited my brother, Don, & his wife, Josie, today.
Tomorrow the Footes will drive to Pittsburgh & stay the night, then on
Monday, they start their journey to Nagoya.

We visit my sister Mary Jo & attend the 5:30pm mass @ St. Anne’s church in
downtown Lodi.

7:30 Dinner @ Mary Jo & Ed’s home: Beef tips, noodles & petite peas + a
small bit of mint chocolate chip ice cream

Mary Jo’s husband, Ed, brought home a 2nd place trophy @ the Delta Rally
today for his 1934 Hot Rod class. Back to our campground @ 9:45pm.

High temp today=104 Lights out: 11:08pm


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