Bean there done it!!

As soon as our feet touched the ground of Western NY we started planning our next adventures. The short time from July 20th to September 5th saw us attend a couple of concerts, Chicago and Jay & the Americans. We adopted two lively kittens named Tipsy and Navin who keep us entertained.  And we planned our next trip to visit our grandson, Hunter, who is in the US Navy and stationed in the outskirts of Chicago.  All of this activity meant the trip to Chicago came up pretty quickly, and the next thing we knew, it was time to pack our bags and get on the road to Chicago.

Our first stop on the long drive to Chicago was Put-in Bay, a small island in Ohio, where we visited Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.  This site commemorates the historic War of 1812 battle which took place in Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. A few short years later…okay, almost 200 years later! Hunter was born on the same day as this historic naval battle. Appropriate that we were heading to visit him at his duty station with the US Navy.  While we just saw a sailor and a ship on a Great Lake, we didn’t say been there, done that. Instead we decided to visit him to and hope that something new would happen.  (Hint: It did!)

The next day saw us head out of Put-in Bay.  Along the way we stopped at Indiana Dunes National Park and did a small hike. The hike along some marshes gave us the delight of seeing a white egret and some sandhill cranes.  The hike left us a bit sandy and our shoes caked with the wet sand, but well worth it to get out in nature. Next stop was a visit with an old friend from Dave’s from his days at Shenandoah NP.  We connected with Ken Mehne who retired from Indiana Dunes and reminisced about old times and discussed new adventures that awaited us all. Finally, knowing that we needed to get on the road to Chicago, we headed out and said our goodbyes to Ken.

We settled into the hotel and got ready to meet with Hunter the next morning. Morning came quickly, and soon, we were at the Great Lakes Naval Station where we waitttttttttttttted for him to finally arrive. Strolling up, he joined us to head out to Chicago to see the sights. First stop, the Navy Pier where we parked in a garage, noted where we were, and set off to explore the area. A sandwich for the starving sailor was one of the first tops. Next we wandered around the pier looking at the activities that abounded. Since we had tickets to a Cubs game at 1:20, we headed back to our car, where we wandered around a bit looking for our car. We tried using the plate reader that helps you locate the care, but no such luck.  We tried several options to find the car before we finally found it, right where we left it! Next stop, the game.  The Chicago Cubs versus the Pittsburg Pirates at Wrigley Stadium, which was built in 1913! Arriving to the parking lot on-time, we hopped on a little yellow shuttle bus and headed to the stadium. The game was entertaining from the start to the video replay end. The energy and enthusiasm of the spectators got us into the spirit of the game and the last minute comeback of the Cubs kept us on our feet and our voices rose in excitement. The Cubs in the last inning went from being down 6-4, to winning 7-6 on a questionable call that saw the hitter safe at 1st base.  Next stop: Millennial Park where we parked, took a picture of our parking spot, memorized our car plate to use the plate reader, and then set off to find the “Bean”, an artwork made out of metal that we did not think it would be interesting, but instead entertained and interested us. We, like the other thousands of tourists, took a variety of selfies and pictures with the “Bean” as the backdrop.  Next stop was dinner at a local pizza shop recommended to us by a group of cops in the park. Soon it was already 8 pm and we knew we had to leave to get back to the car to get Hunter back to base at 10 pm. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked and could not find our car. We went up and down, asked a few people and could not find where we parked. Finally, in desperation, Kathy asked some random strangers on the street for help, where they promptly told us they were just visiting Chicago.  They did suggest that we ask the hotel clerk. Coming in, we explained we were hopelessly lost, and told her that we were by a “dance” theatre. She directed us to go out, cross the street, turn right, and then we should be there. We were quite skeptical, but to her credit we found the subterranean garage, found the car, got on the road and managed to get Hunter back to base only one minute late. (They didn’t court martial him). As we wandered the streets of Chicago for one hour, up and down several street levels, put ~~6000 steps on our pedometers, when we realized that the city of Chicago was  like a 3D map.  Our best laid plans did not account for multiple street levels that were everywhere in downtown Chicago.  We probably walked over our car multiple times, but on the wrong level of Earth!

Sunday dawned bright and early. After church, we headed out to pick up Hunter where we again waittttttted for him to saunter up to start the next day.  First stop was the Willis Tower or, for us old-timers, the Sears Tower, which was again in the heart of Chicago. This time we were prepared, we took a picture of where we were at, texted the address of the parking garage to ourselves, and then took a picture of the outside of the garage.  We were not going to make the same mistake again. We planned. What we didn’t plan for was it was a holiday weekend and there were no tickets available for Sears Tower. We did, though, find our car the first time.  Next stop was the Chicago Aquarium where we managed to avoid getting towed and parked during the “cheap” time of the day.  Heading over to the aquarium, there was another sign that informed us that they were sold out. Checking on-line Kathy saw that some tickets were available between for an access time of 4 pm. Asking the gate attendants about that, we were told to purchase tickets online and we should be able get into the aquarium.  Apparently,  it was only sold out for those trying to buy tickets at the aquarium.  The visit was fun. We saw a variety of fish, reptiles, and even a few beluga whales. At one point, Hunter and Dave, randomly upon seeing a yellow submarine, broke out into song, “We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. “  It is a bit of weirdness on how grandfather and grandson think alike to break out in song at the same exact moment with the same exact song.  Soon it was time to head out. We found our car on the first try!!!  (It is much easier when it is not in a garage, but instead in an open-air lot!) Next stop was dinner, which was Greek food, and then back to the base. While we only had a short four days, we packed a lot into that short time. Most importantly, we saw our grandson whom we love very much. Thank you, Hunter, for serving!!!  We are very proud of him and his service to our country.  Tomorrow we start the journey home.  (Our next few trips are already planned)

The journey home started with a pit stop at Pullman National Historic Site Pullman National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) ( which was appropriate for the Labor Day holiday. The labor strike at the Pullman factory was a contributing factor to the founding of the holiday.  Today was the grand ribbon cutting ceremony to open up the park and visitors center. Lots of cops, NPS law enforcement rangers, and even a smattering of secret service agents couldn’t stop Dave from “sneaking” into the park. We were turned away from entering the park by a NPS LE ranger who said, “Sorry.  It’s closed unless you have a ticket.” Dave confidently responded that he has snuck into places with tighter security, which he has. This park was no match, Dave confidently walked up to the main gate, charmed the interpretive ranger, and was allowed into the park to wander around and look at the sights.

Next stop was to visit the another War of 1812 battlefield, River Raisin National Battlefield.  River Raisin National Battlefield Park (U.S. National Park Service) (   It was a good ending to the trip, considering we started the trip visiting  Perry’s Victory and International Peace monument,  Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial (U.S. National Park Service) (  another War of 1812 historic park.   Now it was time to just buckle down and hit the road. We had a late night stop for dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Dave’s dinner came out and Kathy waited and waited for her meal. It arrived after Dave was finished and full. For once, Kathy was eating while Dave was waiting for her.  The next day saw us arrive home and visit with our kittens who didn’t seem to notice that we had been missing. It was still good to be home.


Last full day in the USA 01/13/2020

Today was a day for saying goodbyes. A big hug for Jill and Shea, Kathy cried, Jill cried. The apple did not fall far from the tree.

Our next stop after breakfast and a shower is Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where we honored the soldiers who gave so much. The lines of gravestones were a solemn reminder of how many sacrificed so much so that we can be free to travel the world.

Next stop was Cabrillo National Monument honoring one of the first Europeans to step foot in California. The views were amazing!! They had a lighthouse!!!! Kathy is a sucker for lighthouses, so this made her day. We hiked around the monument and looked for whales and watched the boats float by below us. We then drove down to the tidepools where we saw an abundance of sea birds dodging the waves that tried to displace them from the rocks.

Last part of the day was spent walking Old Town San Diego where we had a lovely dinner before coming back to get settled in for the night.

We will catch up with y’all when we get settled In New Zealand.

Day 10—Wow in the double digits!!! 01/13/2020

A day at the zoo!!! No, we did not stay in the apartment with Jill and Shea!! San Diego Zoo was the next stop in our adventure. We walked for 5 hours, had over 14,000 steps with only 13 heart points. A fun day all around. We saw, lions, and tigers, and bears Oh My!!!! A lively conversation ensued about which animals we might see during our travels. We will let you know!!

Dinner was an amazing Mexican meal from Guadalajara Casa Restaurant, by far the best we have experienced. A drive thru Old Town to look at some of the architecture and then back to our lodgings.

The day was concluded by spending the evening relaxing with Jill and Shea as they had a 05:30 rendezvous with train heading to Eugene Oregon.

T-290 days and counting – San Diego, California, USA

U-turns seems to be the theme of California; could be the GPS, could be the GPS operator, could be California. The day started off well with a brisk workout and then off to brunch with Grandpa Jack. This led to our first U-turn: two streets named the same except one is East and one is West, and they don’t connect! A perfect way to confuse out of towners. A quick call to get some clarification and we finally arrived at our destination.
After brunch we headed down to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano where we toured the historic site, learned some new historical facts, and soaked in the warm sun!! A few hours later we were on the road to our next stop, San Diego.

A decision to drive the Pacific Coast Highway necessitated another U-turn when we were politely turned around by a State Park Ranger who informed us that we had met the terminus. We tried to figure out if we could continue forward, but Camp Pendleton stood in our way a few miles down the road. The ranger implied that the reception might not be as kindly. U-turn!

We finally arrived at our destination: a cute AirBnB in San Diego located close to amenities and restaurants – and a small wildlife refuge!. A stroll down to the local shopping areas for a dinner at Ike’s—Jill’s one “have to” place to have a bite to eat and then meandered back to the room. A casual night followed as we all caught up on some much needed rest.

January 10, 2020 Day 9 …..291 to go!!

Today was a great day. We didn’t end up in jail! Hooray!! Well, it wasn’t for a lack of trying, that’s for sure. Two attempts at trying to penetrate a naval weapons station was probably two times too many. In our quest to visit a National Wildlife Refuge, we followed our technology. Dave took quite the ribbing from Kathy and our daughter, Jill, and her husband, Shea (who we met up with at LAX) when he ignored Kathy’s smartphone directions and instead followed his GPS directions which advised him to turn right. When he made the turn and was faced with armed security at a military checkpoint, he quickly made a U-turn. After Kathy’s, “Ha! Ha!”, Dave dutifully followed her phone…to another armed entrance to the naval weapons station. Learning on the fly, Dave bypassed this checkpoint without having to make a second uhey. When a third attempt at finding the “public land” had them aiming again at the checkpoint, Dave noticed a sign at the checkpoint for the wildlife refuge. Never letting naval weapons stand in his way, Dave cheerfully approached the checkpoint and informed them that he intended to visit the refuge. “Not without an appointment and an escort you won’t!” informed the equally cheerful armed officer. So, since “U-turn” was the word of the day, Dave cranked the steering wheel around once again. Dave was disappointed that neither “badging his way in” nor a $5 bribe worked on this public servant. (Who puts a National Wildlife Refuge behind a military base???)
Deterred from visiting the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, but not from visiting public lands, the group decided to head to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Following his trusty GPS, he arrived at another security checkpoint, but this one was not attended by armed police backed up by F-15’s. Once again Dave pointed out to the security guard that his trusty GPS, using official US Government satellites, was directing him to public lands through this community. The guard was amused but advised us this was not the way. I showed her the GPS unit showing a shortcut through her neighborhood. The slightly less amused guard gave us different directions. U-TURN!
After making yet another U-turn at Malibu City Hall (which the GPS was sure was sure was along a shortcut!), Dave used a map and we eventually made our way to some public lands for a hike up Backbone Ridge Trail.
The 1.5-hour drive to our hotel after the hike offered us some bonus driving time as the 405 doubled as a parking lot most of the way. So, 2.5 hours later we arrived. After settling in, we walked down the road a mile or so to a restaurant the concierge at the hotel recommended. Since we couldn’t find a table to sit down at, we U-turned on foot to a Chinese restaurant and had our fill.
Lively discussions on how to solve the world’s problems rounded out our day. At least it was a sunny, bright day with temps well above zero for a change!

Last day in SLC–Day 8

Last day in SLC was spent with family and friends. A lovely lunch with Mom and dinner with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Tomorrow, Friday, we head to the airport to begin the start of our world trip.

While I wouldn’t normally comment on our lodgings I have to say our room at our hotel in SLC was an experience. The room, handicapped accessible, had some interesting features. During the night if one of us gets up to go the bathroom the room senses it and turns on the bathroom light!!! Lesson learned the first night, shut the bathroom door or we are all awake!!! The shower wheelchair accessible is flat and water spreads from the shower to the toilet, necessitating towels everywhere after a shower.