Seeing the USA in a Dodge Van, Part 3

Finally! After 82 days, more than 10, 000 miles of driving, and 27 destinations we’re glad to be home in Istanbul. It’s hot now, and in a few other ways life isn’t perfect, but it is comfortably familiar. Walking again – to the neighborhood stores and restaurants – feels natural here, whereas where we’ve been for the last three months, outside of a shopping mall or a recreational area, it felt strange to walk, and we walked very little.

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Mourning Our Dear Friend

William Ronald Gurdjian passed away the night of June 17, 2018 at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He was 78 years old. It is an understatement to simply say he was a friend of mine because ours was one of the longest and deepest friendships of my life, dating back to my early days in Detroit. Kay and Ron loved each other, too, but that came later.

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74 Days and Counting

Dear Family and Friends,

Kay and I are on the road again. Wait! I have to qualify that. We’ve been on actual roads only part of the time unless we extend the literal meaning to railroads, for on much of this voyage through North America, we’ve taken the train. In fact, we embarked on four long-distance train journeys: from New York City to Oakville, Ontario; from Toronto across Western Canada to Vancouver; from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon; and from Portland to Chicago. Though no strangers to train travel in other countries, until now we hadn’t traveled long distance by train in our own. The results were not bad at all.

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Journey’s End – USA 2015

Well, it’s over. As we sit here watching the rain fall outside the window of an airport lounge at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, we think how long it’s been since we left home almost three months ago. We’re tired; we want to go home, and yet we feel a bit melancholy at the end of the trip. Maybe it’s just that endings are hard or maybe continuous travel is like a drug that we’re withdrawing from.

Certainly there has been nothing unrewarding about our activities since our last epistle. In Illinois, we sampled the pleasures of 19th-century Galena and learned about the life and times of Abraham Lincoln at Springfield. In Indiana, we relived old friendships and old memories at Wabash College in Crawfordsville before discovering one of our country’s greatest concentrations of modern and post-modern architecture in Columbus.  Finally, in Chicago, we said goodbye to friends and family members before heading to the airport. It’s been our kind of trip, and it’s been fun. Allow us to expand a bit and recount some of what we’ve experienced.

Days Later at home in Istanbul . . .

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The Big Trip, Part 16

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

At Sea, Approaching New York

At 7:30 a.m. it was still dark, and the promenade deck was slick with rain. Today felt different in another way, too. This was the last day of the cruise. Our twelve-day idyll was ending. Soon, there would be no more timeless conversations with our friends. There was already a sense of tasks to accomplish before we would leave the ship tomorrow morning. As I have done so many times in my life, I put responsibility on hold temporarily and went to see the late afternoon movie.

Our final dinner together was bittersweet. The six of us have really enjoyed dining together these past evenings, and now it was time to say goodbye.

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The Big Trip, Part 15

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Confined to Quarters on the QM 2

A call to the medical center brought a young woman carrying a large red backpack. She took my temperature, my blood pressure, and measured my heart rate. Then, she gave me an injection that knocked me out for hours. Even after waking, I was so groggy I could hardly stand. All I wanted to do was sleep more. Late in the evening Kay ordered some chicken broth for me from room service.

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The Big Trip, Part 14

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Washington, D.C.

Were beginning to come full circle. Kay and I were here in Washington three months ago just before renting the Beast and driving off in the rain.

Washington, DC

Kay and I love coming to Washington. Its monumental architecture and world-class museums are big attractions for us. Another is that, with its wide avenues and magnificent vistas, it is a beautiful city to walk around. We’re proud of Washington where we feel we are in the capital of a great and powerful country. If you’ve never been to Washington or haven’t seen it in a long time, we urge you to make a visit. It’s rewarding.

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The Big Trip, Part 13

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charleston, SC – Hendersonville, NC

We’re on the road again. Hendersonville, North Carolina is in the western part of the state south of Ashville. We’d never come here before and wouldn’t be here now were it not that my friend Pat had recently relocated here with her husband from Chicago’s North Shore. Pat and Jim are now retired. They love to play golf and wanted to escape the harsh Chicago winters. Sound familiar?

Like other relationships I’ve written about in these chapters, Pat and mine is the story of a friendship interrupted. We knew each other as teens in small-town Onarga, Illinois where I was a cadet at the Onarga Military School. Pat tells me that I was her date for her high-school prom. I remember the excitement of sharing ideas about books and other cultural matters.

Forty years after Onarga, Pat and I reconnected via the Internet and have been corresponding regularly since.

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Evening at the Bluesberry Cafe

“I had the blues so bad, they put my face in a permanent frown          Now I’m feeling so much better I could cakewalk into town.”

A visit to Clarksdale, Mississippi, center of the region known as the Mississippi Delta, has been on my bucket list for a long time because for blues lovers the Delta is like Mecca. Once, in 1989, Kay and I set out to come here from New York. Unfortunately, our van’s AC malfunctioned and our vacation time ran out too soon.

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