Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Maryland!

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

NOTE: This blog profiles our first 38 years of marriage and profiles most of my life since graduating from high school at Shawnee Mission West in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1966, and includes a couple of entries from even earlier days.  The road trip profiled in this blog winds through all but one of the places where we have lived since then and summarizes what we have done with our lives.  It is best to read the daily posts using the list in the right column and work through them from bottom to top as as that is the chronological order of the posts!  Hope you enjoy!  This was quite a memorable trip for us!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

(New) Home Sweet Home!

 Final Day!  We were up early this Sunday morning, heading out early so we would arrive with some daylight left when we reach our home in Queenstown, Maryland.  We cut one stop from our trip, our former home in Medford Lakes, NJ.  We decided we needed time to recoup some energy from the trip, and to make preparations to meet the movers, who have advised us they will be at our place first thing Wednesday morning.  We will easily be able to visit that former New Jersey home as it will be just over an hour from our new home, and we have very good friends we look forward to visiting there, and soon!

This Blog is best read in chronological order from bottom to top!
First accomplishment today was to cross into West Virginia, which would be a short visit as we quickly crossed that narrow north-pointing arm of West Virginia.  Not to worry "Mountaineers"!  We'll be back!

Click on blog photos for larger images!
Just a few minutes later we crossed into Pennsylvania, the Keystone state, and not long after turned south from I-70 onto I-79.  Those who are familiar with the geography of the area know that our visit to Pennsylvania was also short, as about 40 minutes later we crossed back into West Virginia just above Morgantown.  From just below Morgantown, we turned back east onto I-68, known as the "National Highway".  Why?  We don't know, and set the cruise control for Maryland, who's border laid just 32 miles ahead.  We are both familiar with I-68 as it is the route we would use in the mid 1990's to take our oldest daughter Sarah back and forth from our then home in Medford Lakes, NJ, to college at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Welcome to Maryland!
The trip through West Virginia is mountainous, fitting for the Mountaineer State, and we experience some snow showers along the way.  Evidence of the recent snows was still present as we crossed the border into Maryland!  Ahhh!  After about 3,350 miles on the road, we finally entered our new home State!

Maryland has a lot to offer, and scenery is one of it's best attributes.  Nothing like the Sierra's of California, or the Canyons of Arizona and Utah, but still some very pleasant views that range from the mountains to the Chesapeake Bay.  This series of photos starts in the mountains of western Maryland.

I love the symmetry of this shot!
Then continues as the mountains smooth out into hills as our eastward trek takes us down to the plains of central Maryland....

.....where we begin to see the snow gradually fade and the forests change to picturesque farms like these

About 200 miles later, after skating between Baltimore and Washington, DC (you west coast surfers would have called it "shooting the pier", and those who have lived on the East Coast know what I mean by that!) and found our way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, our Garmin voice "Gertrude" still guiding the way!

Please click on this photo for a larger image!

Here though is a better view, albeit not as good as you get in person, but as good as we could manage in stiff crosswinds from the moving car.  There are no scenic turnoffs on the bridge!

Our home in Sportsman's Hall, Queenstown, Maryland!

About 20 minutes later we arrived at our destination, and our new home in Queenstown, Maryland, located about halfway down what is named Bennett Point Peninsula!

Our home here is a 2,200 sq ft single level home situated on a 1.2 acre wooded lot, situated between two inlets of the Chesapeake Bay.  During the last mile to the house we saw a small herd of wild turkeys in the woods just off the roadside, and then a family of deer about a half mile from the house. We believe we are really going to enjoy it here! 
View from Google Earth! Click for larger image!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The (new) Home Stretch!

Click on blog photos for larger images!
With our beloved Indiana Univeristy fading in the rear view mirror, we headed back north on Route 37 toward Indianapolis, and then made the turn east onto I-70.  Though the roads were clear, our route still showed the effects of the ice storm that had swept over the mid-west on Thursday, including some spectacular winter scenes such as this one, between New Castle and Richmond, Indiana.

This blog is best read from bottom to top!
We crossed the border into Ohio about 1 PM, and continued on across Ohio to St Clairsville, just shy of the West Virginia border, where we decided to stop for the night!
We had yet another exceptional experience this evening to add to this journey.  We wanted to get an early start tomorrow for our final segment to our home in Maryland, so we decided to find a church with a Saturday evening mass.  What we found was  Saint Alphonsus Church, in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia.  Sorry that the photo quality is not up to par.  This photo was taken in very dim light with my Blackberry, just before mass started.  The church was built in 1856 and has striking  romanesque architecture.  If you are interested, you can read more about St. Alphonsus here:

Tomorrow we should reach our destination in Queenstown, MD.  It looks as if the weather will continue to be kind, and we hope to arrive there by mid-afternoon.

"Gloriana, Frangipana, E'er to her be true!"

"She's the pride of Indiana, hail to old IU."

MRC the Men's Residence Center
So we woke with the Saturday morning sunlight, and set out to drive the campus we had not seen in years, including those places we lived when we were in school here.

This first photo is of what at the time was called MRC, or Men's Residence Center.  I believe it is still the oldest residence hall complex in use at IU.  When I lived here from 1968  to 1970 the floor directly above me was occupied by perhaps one of the most famous athletic teams in history.  The IU Swim Team.  Yes, Indiana and swimming.  Swimmers on that team literally swept the 1972 Olympics, led by Mark Spitz, the team also included Gary Hall, Jim Councilman, Jr., Charlie Hickox, John Kinsella.

Reed Hall
 Beth first resided at Reed Residence Center on Jordan Avenue.  It was in the parking lot at Reed that we became engaged in early 1971.

The "Zeta" house

Then as an upperclassman was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and lived at the "Zeta" house on North Jordan.  We were surprised to find out today that the size of the house has been doubled with the addition of a second wing on the back.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hoosier Hysteria!

This Blog is best read from Bottom to Top!
This journey just wouldn't be complete without a visit to the place where we met, and fell in love some 42 years ago.  Bloomington, Indiana.  Home of many memories for each of us.

Famous Woodlawn Ave. just off campus

This is the approach to the campus from the famed Woodlawn Ave., home to the off-campus bookstores, pubs, and coffee houses first made famous by the musicians and intellects of generations past.  It was in these pubs and coffee houses that the likes of Hogie Carmichael, Jane Pauley, Mark Cuban (RealAudioRealNetworks founder and owner of the Dallas Mavericks), the famous journalist Ernie Pyle, politicians Birch and Evan Bayh, John T. Thompson (inventor of the Thompson sub-machine gun), swimmer Mark Spitz, etc. fine tuned the life skills that made them successful.

Indiana University Student Union
Indiana University, founded in 1820 as a land grant school,  is a hallowed campus, rich with historic buildings built from the same beautiful natural limestone as many of our national buildings in Washington, DC.  The limestone is native to this area, mined from quarries just outside Bloomington.

Assembly Hall

But perhaps most widely-known about IU is it's rich record of success in athletics, with five National Championships in Basketball, six National Championships in Swimming, and seven National Championships in Soccer.

This is a photo of the famed Assembly Hall, where all of Indiana's home basketball games have been played starting with the arrival of Coach Bobby Knight in 1972.

Basketball banners in the hallowed hall!

These are the banners hung at the respective ends of Assembly Hall.  Quite a reverant site to us Hysteric Indiana basketball fans!

Wouldn't you just know it?  Luck would have it that our trip east brought us to Bloomington and IU on a night when there was a home basketball game, and coincidently just after final exams, when many students had already headed home for the holidays.  What luck!  In town at the right time, and tickets were available.  What an experience.  Beth and I were both gone from this campus before Assembly Hall opened, and this night marked the first time either of us had taken in a game in this arena.

24 - 0 Start?  Come on Man!
 Check out this scoreboard!  Believe your eyes.  IU started the game with a 24 - 0 run against opponent Southern Illinois University.  I don't think I have ever watched a college basketball game, live or on TV, that started off with 24 straight points by any team.  IU went on to an 88 - 54 victory in an early round game of the 2010 Las Vegas Classic tournament.  Now the team is headed west to Las Vegas while Beth and I continue our trip east.

The times of my life!

Beth with Uncle Clarence

We started off Friday in Rochester, Indiana, where we visited Beth's Uncle Clarence Basanda.  Clarence is a city boy turned serious farmer, who retired from a garage building business to farming over three decades ago.  He farmed actively until in his late 70s, and now lives in a retirement community.

7046 Bexley Dr., Castleton, In.

Following our visit with Uncle Clarence, we headed south on US31 to Indianapolis, where I lived with my  parents in the late 60s.  Their home at that time was in Lawrence township, and was at the outer edge of the "Naptown" area, bordered at that time by forests and corn fields. The neighborhood later became annexed by the once-farming community of Castleton, which now is fully suburban.  This home at 7046 Bexley is my clear favorite of all the homes I have lived in during my life.  Two milestone events I remember from my days there are the assination of Robert Kennedy, and the first Moon Landing.

Click on photos for larger images!
From Castleton, we headed around Indianapolis on I-465, picked up Indiana Rt 37, and headed south to Indiana University in Bloomington, where we first met, and where we became engaged!

My days in Indiana were the favorite days of my life!  I met Beth, my wife of now 39 years.  I lived a Walter Mitty life when at IU as I worked for WIUS, the Indiana University radio station, as a sportscaster, with my primary assignment at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where I conducted broadcast interviews with such famous race drivers as A J Foyt, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Dan Gurney, the Unser brothers Bobby and Al, Jim Clark, Dennis Hulme, Bruce McClaren, Mark Donahue, and many more!  I still have most of those interviews on a reel-to-reel tape and on dubbed cassette tapes.  I have a near term goal of transferring them to CDs or DVDs.

I also treasure highly the time I spent working at Hoosier Motor Club, the AAA affiliate club in Indiana.  I worked there for three summers, and each holiday break when I was a student at IU.  My primary work was in the travel department, where I constructed map-based travel routings called Trip Tics for members.  What I know today about US geography that did not come from my moves to the many places I have lived, comes from my days at Hoosier Motor Club.  I also spent considerable time working with the member services regarding automobile license plate renewals, which served me well later in life when I worked in the motor vehicle industry for 23 years!

Hoosier Motor Club was also richly steeped in motor-sports history, as up until 1962 the American Automobile Association, AAA or Triple-A, was the sanctioning body for the Indianapolis 500, and during my time there was still the organization that conducted the Indianapolis 500 Festival, including the Miss Indy 500 Pagent and the Indianapolis 500 Parade. Many of my college-aged co-workers during that time were hired from the contestants of the Miss Indy 500 Pagent!  Tough Duty!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Home Again in Indiana!

Blog should be read from bottom to top!
From Chanute AFB we headed farther north to Hammond and Munster, Indiana.  This is the area where Beth was raised, and where we lived for about two years following my military service. 
We moved to Hammond, when our oldest daughter Sarah was barely two weeks old! 

7317 Tapper Ave., Hammond, Indiana
(Click on blog photos for larger images)
 The brick house on Tapper, now absolutely dwarfed by an 90 year old pine tree, is where we lived begining in April of 1974 as I finished school on the GI Bill, and during the ensuing period when I worked for Procter and Gamble/Folger's Coffee Division.  Beth's parents bought this house specifically to rent to us, and sold it shortly after we moved to Kansas City in 1976.

(Note the obligatory basketball goal at the near corner of the house!)

7349 Woodmar Ave., Hammond, Indiana
 The house on Woodmar is where Beth and her brother and sister all grew up. It was new when her parents moved into it in 1950.  Beth was born somewhat after that!  I am not allowed to say just when! 

9553 Walnut Dr., Munster, In
The house on Walnut, in Munster, Indiana, is where Beth's parents lived beginning in 1976, and is what our three kids have always known as Grandpa and Grandma B's house!

Today we also visited the cemetary where Beth's parents now rest.
Bronze Star Medal Plaque, click for larger image!
We took extra time to locate the special plaque that recognizes her father's military service during World War II, and the Bronze Star Medal  that he was awarded for valor as his outfit fought near the heavily fortified Maginot Line, which marked the french border. If you click on the photo you will get a larger image that is readable.

US Route 30, near LaPorte, Indiana
We then headed East on US Route 30 for North Central Indiana, the route where just four days earlier hundreds of motorists were stranded for up to two days in an unforecasted freak snow storm of what the locals know as "lake effect snow", which is not associated with any weather system, but is instead the result of strong northwest to southeast winds coming off of Lake Michigan near South Bend, Indiana.  The road was now clear, and the photo from the moving car does not do justice to amount of snow that was still present.

We continue to be fortunate on this coast-to-coast meandering trip that we have encountered a minimal amount of bad weather, and we appear to be shooting a gap in weather systems that will get us all the way to Maryland mostly unscathed!

Weather or Not!

This blog should be read from bottom to top!
Today, Thursday, started off requiring some extra time and effort to clear a layer of about 1/2" of ice off of the CRV.  Not only so we could drive, but first to get through the ice to get the vehicle open!  The hotel parking lot was as slick as a hockey rink, but had an added challenge in that it was sloped!  We took no photos, happy just to survive the experience without falling down.

Our first stop today was the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois.  Chanute AFB was closed in the early 1990s. 

Click on any blog photo for larger image!
Grissom Hall is where I received my weather training, which lasted about 9 months from late 1970 to mid 1971.  The former Chanute AFB is now a regional airport, and the community of Rantoul has taken steps to preserve some history of the base, including a museum. 
My unit was OLA 16, Detachment 16,
5th Weather Wing, Military Airlift Command,
United States Air Force

This Air Force Base was home to a number of training schools, including those for Weather, Weather Equipment Maintenance, Aircraft Mechanics, and Aircraft Avionics Maintenance.  I was very disappointed to find little or no reference left to the Weather or Weather Equipment training.  I'm inserting an image of my own AWS patch!  All Weather personnel supporting the Air Force and Army were trained at this base from the late 1940s until the base closed in 1993.  I am referring to a very large number of persons, many who went on to post-military careers with the National Weather Service and NOAA, including the Severe Storms Forecast Center for tornado and hurricane tracking and forecasting.  Every Air Force Base and Army Air Field in the world have had a significant number of Air Force Weather Service personnel whose duties include conducting flight weather briefings.

I was unable to locate the barracks where I lived during my training here!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ice Age Revisited!

I-44/I-70 Mississipi River Bridge!  Entering Illinois!
From West St. Louis County we set sail for Edwardsville, Illinois, across the mighty Mississippi River, to visit with Beth's cousin Cheryl.  Funny that with all the places we have lived between California and here that this is the first of our relatives that we reached on this trip! 

We were lucky that we got an early start today, because less than an hour behind us a winter ice storm closed in. 

Beth & Cheryl, Edwardsville, Il
By the time we had finished a nice dinner with Cheryl, the streets had become treacherous with a 1/4 inch sheet of ice.  Back in Missouri, right where we had taken the exit from I-44 to Route 100 at Gray Summit, a semi jacknifed and wrecked, causing a backup that stranded motorists for over 6 hours!  Just a coincidence, but some 39 years ago, nearly to the date, I had experienced an identical ice storm begining at the same spot in Gray Summit, Missouri, as I moved hand-me-down furniture in a trailer hitched to a '65 Plymouth Barracuda from my parents West County house to that bungalow you can see in an earlier post below in Waynesville.

Meet me in St Louis, Louis! (But Head-On?)

Historic Route 66 Marker, Gray Summit, Mo.
From Ft Leonard Wood we headed up I-44 to Gray Summit, where we picked up Missouri Route 100 into the Balwin/Manchester area known as "west county".  These routes directly replaced US Route 66, a fact which is now commemorated.  Twenty to thirty years ago the Interstate Highway Commission was doing everything it could to remove all references to old highways replaced with Interstates, so it's really nice now to see that reversed by States and local communities .

15130 Chamisal Dr., Manchester, Mo.
Today we took these routes to find the home my parents owned during a brief stop in the St. Louis area in the early 1970s.  Their time here closely coincided with my time at Ft. Leonard Wood, so I spent many weekends here. 

Navigating the West County area can be quite confusing as the area was not laid out in the same land-grant grid as rural Missouri.  Instead, the roads were laid from town to town, and in West County there are many small towns such as Ballwin, Manchester, Ellisville, Clayton, and Chesterfield, that years ago grew together. 

Head-On Collision?
We had the address of my parents old home, but were not successful looking it up with our Garmin Nuvi GPS.  We remembered it as being in Ballwin.  Turned out the Garmin has that address registered in Manchester. Our Garmin guides us with a female voice, and we refer to her as Gertrude!  We don't think it to be our imagination that her voice gets more and more tense and frustrated with any wrong turns, and even more so with several wrong turns in a row.  "Make a U-Turn", "Turn Left!", Turn Right!". "In 1/8th of a Mile MAKE a U-TURN!"  Well we and the West County roads got Gurtrude so upset and confused that this on-screen contradiction is what happened!  (see photo of display!)  We nearly wrecked we were laughing so hard.

Lost and Found!

Ft. Leonard Wood, Front Gate!
Well, we didn't get lost looking for Fort Leonard Wood, despite it's nickname of Fort Lost-in-the-Woods.  It got the nickname because of it's location in Clark National Forest.  But we did have to search around to find the location of the on-post housing that we occupied while there.  When we occupied 8D Pulaksi Ct. from 1972 to 1974, it was deemed sub-standard housing as it and the surrounding duplexes were 1940's vintage housing that had once been condemned.  It was saved from the bulldozer because of increased demand for housing during the rise in troop strength during the Viet Nam War.  Viet Nam was essentially over when I was honorably discharged in April of 1974, and shortly after we left that substandard housing was finally demolished.

Our Garmin GPS was of no use on the post as military installations are not mapped.  That demolished housing has since been replaced, and a new series of streets constructed.  After following our instincts for a few minutes we first came up with a new Pulaski Ct., and when we reversed our course and drove to the other end of it we amazingly found an apron of pavement, complete with the re-rod anchored parking curb, both still in place where Pulaski Ct. formerly came to an end in front of the housing we had occupied.

Pulaski Ct., Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

We were also able to visit the former Forney Army Airfield on Fort Wood.  It now is known as Waynesville Regional Airport and run by the city of Waynesville and Pulaski County.  The weather station I used to man is still there, and is now manned by meteorologists from the National Weather Service.  The weather and flight operations building is still configured as I remembered it, though the teletype machines and two-foot wide black and white weather map plotters and manual instruments have been replaced with modern computerized systems.  Here are some photos showing how it looks today.

Forney Field, Ft. Leonard Wood
U.S. Weather Station, Forney Field
General Leonard Wood Army Hospital
We made one last find.  General Leonard Wood Army Hospital, which was where our oldest daughter, Sarah, was born about two weeks before my discharge in April, 1974.

Sho-Me First! Sho-Me What?

1315 Biscayne Dr., Jefferson City, Mo.
 First on our agenda for today was this. It was the first home that Beth and I ever owned , at 1315 Biscayne Dr., Jefferson City, Missouri.  It was located in a new home development well out of town, in the middle of what had been hayfields and pastures.  There were lots of quail around and I had fun perfecting my quail call,  Fittingly, and totally not kidding here, the home builder's name was Bob White!

Street address unknown, Waynesville, Mo.
   But it was here where Beth and I first lived together, shortly after we were married in January of 1972, some 39 years ago!  It took some searching, but today we found it still standing! This less-than-wonderful bungalow had simple skeleton-key door locks and windows that didn't lock. When I first drove her up to this place, my new bride looked at me and said "you are kidding me, aren't you?"  It was located across from the high school in Waynesville, Missouri, but behind a smelly fuel oil trucking company just outside Fort Leonard Wood, where I was stationed when in the Air Force during the Viet Nam era.  We only lived it this bungalow for a short time while we were on the waiting list for on-post housing.  You will be able to read more on "Fort Lost in the Woods" in the next blog post!  Oh! For the record, with this stop we have now found our way back onto our heritage along US Route 66. 

Meanwhile, we just must share more of Missouri with you in this next photo.  Like I said, Missouri has much to "Sho Me"!  We found this along Missouri Route 17 between Lake of the Ozarks and Waynesville!  We assume this Missourian is heading to Florida just after Christmas.  What do your think?  (NO! We did not live here at any time!)

Flamingos and Santa with Reindeer?
Please click on photo for larger image!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sho-Me more?

Click on this photo for larger image!
More to come soon from the Sho-Me State, Missouri!  Upon leaving Shawnee-Mission we headed over into another state that had been our home, Missouri!  Missouri has much to show us, including this anomaly, now some 2,500 miles into our trip!