Saturday, October 31, 2009

Great People, Good Food

After enjoying our rather rapid descent from the Blue Ridge Mountains we found ourselves at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The campus was gorgeous; there seemed to be quite the amount of money floating around at this private school judging by the stunning architecture all around us. Here you can see a snapshot of the Greek housing, right next door to the amazing athletic complex. Also worth mentioning, the students seemed hyper-friendly (something in the dormitory water supply perhaps?). Between the fantastic people and the delicious food we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

We also stopped at the public library in Lexington to harness some internet power. It was here that Rebecca approached us and offered us a place to stay. We happily accepted the kind offer of hospitality and made our way down to the family-owned Grey Fox Farm. Here we met the rest of the crew: husband Lee, daughter Leila, and family friend Darcy. In no time at all we were feasting on burgers with homemade buns and homemade ice cream for dessert. Yum-eee! All the while we conversed about travel. Turns out Rebecca and family are quite the adventurous bunch - the whole gang embarked on a year long road trip around the US prior to settling down in Virginia. Rebecca had compiled a collection of stories about the journey which she has considered publishing (we wholeheartedly seconded the motion after reading some entries that night). The next morning Lee showed us around his kiln before breakfast; law is his vocation but pottery is his passion. Soon after, Rebecca whipped up a lip-smacking creation that I have never heard of before called eggs goldenrod. The dish passed our tastebud-test with flying colors - yet another recipe to add to the egg arsenal! With full bellies we hopped on our steel steeds and wobbled down the county road.

A little further down the road in Troutville we stopped for a lunch break and some R&R in the city park. Chef Joseph prepares some tuna fish sandwiches featuring Sriracha brand chili sauce, the most delicious hot sauce under the sun. I know nothing brightens my day like a helping of Sriracha. *Note: we are not affiliated with Sriracha and commentary on this website should not be considered opinions of Huy Fong Foods, inc. (though we would be open to a Sriracha sponsorship). Following lunch we broke for recess on the playground. There was something magical about setting three near-grown men without responsibilities free in a children’s wonderland. Most importantly, the bonding experience served to fully incorporate Joe into the circle. A lot of variables come into play when considering riding companions and Joe had shaped up to be a marvelous fit, creating a trifecta of sorts. To give you a little background on Joe, he’s recently finished his schooling and residency to become a dentist (DDS) and is using this trip to figure out the next chapter of his life. He plans to ride with us clear to San Francisco so you can assume he’s along unless noted otherwise ;)

That night we made the pedal to Catawba, home of the “Home Place.” The reputation of this buffet style eatery preceded itself. Folks from miles around talked up the generous portions and down-home flavor. Motivated to investigate for ourselves, we popped in to glance at the menu. Seconds later we reached a unanimous verdict to dine in. Our waitress seated us and offered us sweet tea, coffee, and lemonade. From the kitchen came pouring a seemingly endless stream of plates piled with fresh, hot, scrumptious looking food. Fried chicken, roast beef, pulled pork, mashed taters and gravy, green beans, corn, pork and beans, biscuits, and spiced apples littered the table, nearly concealing the tablecloth leaving nary a place to rest one’s elbows. To think I almost forgot to mention the apple butter and relish for the biscuits! With the eating event well underway, Joe made the wise decision to quit while ahead and sat somewhat slack-jawed at Clancy and myself and our display of gluttony. Determined to drive down our cost-per-bite, we kept the mountains of food coming until we neared paralysis. We didn’t save room for dessert but when the pie and ice cream presented itself we devoured it anyway. Oy Vey! Perhaps I should review my health coverage for a “binge eating” or “obesity” clause that might interfere with a claim filed later down the line...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And Then There Were Three

Having found our way to Virginia we now realized that we were in the south - something about all the Confederate flags hung from front porches tipped us off. In Fredericksburg we visited Spotsylvania National Military Park, an educational center designed to inform folks about the four battles fought on these grounds back in the Civil War. A couple hours in the small museum taught us more about the Civil War than we had learned in all of our years of formal education. Fascinating were the Union and Confederate uniforms and firearms, the tidbits about life as a soldier, the use of drums for battlefield signaling, etc. In all of the chaos we found ourselves sympathizing with the Confederate faction - I had to remind myself that the proper side won! After a fascinating ride around the park (essentially a battlefield tour) and snapping a bunch of pictures, we headed on towards Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s Estate. Note: make sure to head over to the photos page for pics relating to items described throughout this post.

Shortly after arriving at the Mt. Vernon visitor center, we were safely escorted back out to the entrance gates with the helpful staff explaining that bicycles are not allowed on the premises. Furthermore, they explained, purchase of a $20 ticket is required to set foot on any of the grounds. What excellent service - so much so that I felt no desire to part with my money or return to the site again. Not far down the road the same held true for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s abode. To rewind momentarily, between Mt. Vernon and Monticello we had the pleasure of meeting a delightful cyclist named Joe. He happened to be on the exact same route as us, headed toward San Francisco. We welcomed his company that afternoon and rode with him up until Charlottesville the following day. Here we continued on toward Afton while Joe stayed in town to have some bike maintenance performed on account of his rear wheel acting up.

In Afton we had quite the treat awaiting us. This was the beginning of the Blue Ridge mountains and more importantly where we planned to meet up with Dave and Maggie, family of the Thompsons, the kind folks that practically adopted us in Whitefish, Montana. We marveled at the mountains on both sides of us, thinking to ourselves how indistinguishable the landscape appeared from terrain at home. As we rolled up to Dave and Maggie’s house we were greeted warmly by the couple and their two adorable children. Little did we know, Maggie had prepare a feast in anticipation of our arrival. For an appetizer we were served homemade salsa and chips. The main course included homemade soup (made from vegetables out of their very own garden), and dessert was a marvelous peach cobbler. We ate until our stomachs nearly burst, saving just enough room to sample some delicious beer produced at a nearby brewery. Conversation went late into the night - we so enjoyed hearing about Dave and Maggie‘s work and life experiences. Both of them were fascinating, incredibly down to earth people (literally), with trade skills in stone masonry and sustainable agriculture respectively. In the morning Maggie made us some tasty breakfast burritos and Clancy lent a hand by fixing Dave’s Volkswagen door handle. We eventually hit the road once again (reluctantly), this time to begin the real ascent up the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Nearing midday we met up with Joe once again at a very important landmark on the Transamerica route. Nicknamed “The Cookie Lady,” June Curry has been providing assistance to cross country cyclists since bikecentennial in 1976. The route map boasted that June’s free bike hostel contained a single room of bicycle memorabilia (pictured: Joe, Clancy, and myself outside of said hostel). To our surprise, there were four rooms jam packed with items left by bicyclists over the course of 30+ years. We left some items to add to the collection and walked around the corner to speak with June herself. Though she has been healthier in years past, June was full of fascinating and inspiring stories and positive energy. She told us how she considers cyclists her family and how they had come to her aid in hard times. A remarkable lady with a motivating presence, we were certainly glad that we stopped to visit with June.

Our climb up the Blue Ridge Mountains rewarded us with panoramic views of Virginia’s most gorgeous vistas. Unlike other roads designed to provide a means to get from point A to point B, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile road with no other purpose than recreational touring. Featuring an abundance of turnouts and magnificent overlooks, the byway certainly delivers. Our first stop on the parkway was the pioneer farm museum, also home to the Humpback rock hiking trail. At the pioneer museum we were afforded a glance back in time - a time when manual labor and protecting livestock from natural predators were survival norms. After checking out the exhibits we started trekking up the hill to catch the sunset from Humpback Rock. From the craggy precipice on top we were gifted with one of the most beautiful sunsets that I can recall. The following day we journeyed to Crabtree Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. Though the water flow was relatively low, the impressive overlook at the top was worth every step.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cradle of Democracy

Of all the east coast cities we planned to visit we were possibly most excited for Washington DC. Not only had we heard of all of the free attractions (i.e. museums, monuments, government buildings) but we also had friends from back home to catch up with. As soon as we arrived in town we headed to Staci’s house; though we wondered if we would actually make it there - the neighborhood seemed a little rough. Much to our chagrin, when we knocked on the door Staci answered with a big smile. We wanted to give her a hug but having not showered for several days, thought it might be best if the gesture was withheld. We stepped into the beautifully decorated house that felt like an Oasis in a desert. In minutes we had met Staci’s delightful roommates, Enchanta and JJ. With some fabulous conversation under our belts, Staci offered to take us on a night tour of the “the Mall” (the lawn near the Capitol Building where many of the monuments are located). We happily obliged and soon found ourselves strolling by the Washington Monument, Lincoln, and WWII memorials.

The following morning Clancy and I set out to see the Library of Congress, Capitol Building, and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Contradicting world maps dating back to 1507 and 1516 grabbed our attention at the Library of Congress as well as the massive and gorgeous “reading room.” Our fabulous tour of the inside of the Capitol revealed such sights as the “rotunda” (the breathtaking underside of the dome that the aliens blew to pieces in Independence Day the movie), and statues galore depicting famous historical figures ranging from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. The real pleasure of the day however, came in the form of the Air and Space museum. Featuring world renown aeronautical exhibits such as the original (restored) 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh's spirit of St. Louis, Apollo command center, lunar landers, and Chuck Yeager’s X-11, the museum captivated our attention for hours on end. It turned out to be an educational but exhausting day!

In the AM we launched back into the city, this time with our tour guides Staci and JJ. We hit up the White House first thing (no, we weren’t able to spot Obama or pet the first dog) and proceeded directly onward to the nearby Vietnam Memorial. The wall is a memorial that most all Americans have heard about and for good reason - seeing the sheer number of names in person is a moving experience. Afterward, we switched back into museum mode and checked out the Museum of American History. The Smithsonians in DC are spectacular; not only are they free, they feature exhibits of the highest caliber! Wanting to treat our eyeballs to yet more candy, we meandered through the sculpture garden and walked by Ford Theater where president Lincoln was shot. Again spent for the day, we headed home to relax. That’s where the Twister mat came into play. Some alcohol might have been consumed and several games later there may have been some hysterical laughter - let’s just say that we can’t post all of the pictures on the blog.

The following day we awoke (this time not so early) with the intent to meet up with our friend Perry and his new family at the Museum of Natural History. Clancy, Staci and myself hopped on the bus and headed for the museum. When we did meet up with Perry and the clan we were thrilled - his wife Megan and son Parker were absolutely delightful. There was something really magical about witnessing grown up Perry turned dad. We oogled the Hope Diamond (a whopping 45 carats), the world’s largest crystal ball, dinosaur bones, and a fascinating exhibit on ants. The picture here is a mold of an actual ant colony - the casting substance is simply poured into the earth then excavated. Incredible. By this time Parker was due for a nap so we said our goodbyes to Perry and fam and continued on to scope out some final monuments. We got a second (daytime) view of the Lincoln Memorial, checked out the Korean War Memorial, walked through the FDR Memorial, and marveled at the Jefferson Monument. Pictures of all these sights can be found in our DC photo gallery - probably worth a look. Frankly, the amount of things to do and see in Washington were completely overwhelming, seemingly more so than any previous city. You could spend a full year here and still feel like there were things to explore. We joked that we had been struck with a mild case of post traumatic stress disorder from museum fatigue. Unfortunately, the real misfortune would come the next morning. It was then that we bid farewell to Staci, JJ, and Enchanta. Saying goodbye to our new DC family was sad indeed - we were soon to find ourselves home-away-from-home sick.

On the way out of town we scoped out Arlington Cemetery just across the Potomac River in Virginia. The JFK grave site and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were sights to behold. An armed guard patrols the soldier’s tomb 24 hours a day, rain or shine. We stayed put to witness a changing of the guard ceremony (occurs every half hour). The whole procession was an incredible way to honor our fallen service men and women. Sadly, over twenty soldiers are buried in the cemetery every day. Before our departure we walked over to the famous Iwo Jima statue, erected in honor of fallen Marines. Goodbye DC - we’ll miss you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Huge Thank Yous

We were recently the receivers of yet more good fortune. Teresa Thomas of the Mail Tribune was gracious enough to write up an article about our trip! You might have seen the column in the paper - if not you can check it out here. Well written indeed (in case you are wondering I am in fact riding with Mr. Finchum, not Sinchum - easy mix up). We were curious to see how media involvement might boost traffic to the website (both in comments and more importantly fund-raising dollars). Unfortunately we didn’t see much of an impact but we are still optimistic. I just changed the website as to allow anyone to comment (no user ID required), so if you have been lurking in the shadows now would be a great time to drop us a line or even make a donation =)

Another incredible gift came in the form of an internet retailer: Clancy and I had both bought our panniers (packs) from the gentleman that runs this fine operation before our trip. We appreciated Wayne’s customer service even back then. Unfortunately, our packs weren’t quite working out the way we had planned (specifically with regard to waterproofing). We called up Wayne and explained the scenario. He went out of his way to make the situation right. If you noticed that our bags look a little different these days then you would be correct. A million thanks to Wayne and the touring! If you are in the market for touring gear (racks, bags, etc.) we strongly encourage you to look him up.

Onwards, Towards Baltimore

After leaving Philadelphia we were in for some real visual treats. Making our way first towards Lancaster we ran straight into the middle of Amish country. Never before on this voyage have we seen farms so beautiful, land so pristine. The rolling terrain served to conceal the next gorgeous field, one after the next. Each time we crested a hill we were afforded a different view of serenity. Horse drawn carriages were the norm and life clipped along at a slower pace, a pace suited for bicycle travel. Hard work and large families are the formula for productivity and success in this neck of the woods. We witnessed labor intensive tobacco harvest, processing, and drying. I’ve never seen so much tobacco before - I guess it’s not just for Virginia! I found it very impressive how much these people were able to accomplish without electricity, cars, tractors, etc.; they manage somehow to turn the saying “work smarter not harder” upside down with seemingly spectacular results. While I can’t say that I agree with many of their practices (i.e. removal of children from school following the eight grade, no indoor plumbing, shunning of those who break the rules, and so forth), I can say that I have an incredible amount of respect for the simple lives that these people lead. If you are interested in reading more about the Amish and what makes them different from others (like Mennonites) then you can read more here. One last thing about the Amish - they make wicked baked goods in addition to items like furniture. Clancy picked up some delicious cream pies from a road-side stand. He also spied something called shoofly pie, a marvelous confection that we have not had the pleasure of running across since - if you happen to have one on hand we would be happy to sample it for quality assurance purposes.

Another point of interest worth mentioning in Pennsylvania is Valley Forge National Historic Park. This site is where General George Washington’s men hunkered down for the winter of 1777 during the Revolutionary War. Though long gone are the exhausted, hungry and freezing soldiers, the park’s landmarks are a testament to these valiant men in uniform. Perhaps the most impressive monument in Valley Forge is the National Memorial Arch; standing three stories high the inscription in the top reads “Naked and starving as they are we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery” -General George Washington. On the border of the park rests Washington Memorial Chapel. Though by no means the largest church nor the most architecturally impressive, the chapel stood out as one of my favorites. The stained glass windows were among the most detailed I have ever seen - depicting colonial persons in various poses, the hundreds of panes lined all four walls of the sanctuary. Truly spectacular. The church also housed the Justice Bell, a duplicate of the Liberty Bell that tolled for the first time only after the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.

In only a short while we found ourselves in Maryland, exploring the nooks and crannies of Baltimore. Let me tell you - some of these nooks looked a little sketchy. Once we arrived in the downtown the cityscape cleaned up and became more touristy (though we heard the docks could get mighty rowdy on a Saturday night). It was here that we laid eyes on the Chesapeake Bay. The waterfront is home to one of the finest aquariums the world round (the National Aquarium - note the terrarium in the picture) and also Fort McHenry, the fortification that was heavily shelled overnight in the war of 1812. The battle inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that when sung to the tune of a popular British drinking song, came to be know as the Star Spangled Banner. We also took time to gander at the Washington Monument (of Baltimore) and snapped some photos as darkness closed in just prior to our departure.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Just a short jog down the road from NYC is Philadelphia, our nation’s once capital and financial center. Having thoroughly enjoyed the rich history of both Boston and New York, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore another place that the founding fathers held so dearly. With cheesesteaks and preconceived images of the Liberty Bell in mind we dove right in.

As you enter the city the first thing you notice is the enormous Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here, at the base of the steps, you can find the infamous Rocky statue; having been a boxer, I encouraged Clancy to pose with Balboa. Funny thing, I think Clancy is actually taller than Sylvester Stallone but the picture didn’t turn out that way… From here it was just a hop and a skip down to City Hall and Love Park. You will instantly recognize Love Fountain when you think about postage stamps - its likeness was featured for some time. We hadn’t spent 30 minutes in Philly and we had already been immersed in local culture! Not wanting to slow down the pace, we headed promptly to Independence National Historic Park.

Upon our arrival, the Liberty Bell Center reminded us the history behind the American icon that we had learned about in high school. We read about how the bell had cracked after being tested for the first time and how it had been recast only to render an unsatisfactory tone. It was recast a second time only to crack some 80 years later. This time the bell was repaired by drilling (an acceptable method to stop the crack from spreading) and lasted eleven more years until the crack spread to the crown of the bell, rendering it unusable. If you ask me, this seems like quite the amount of tribulation for a symbol that epitomizes liberty; I’m thankful that our actual freedoms have outlasted the use of this extraordinary icon.

Just steps away from the Liberty Bell sits Independence Hall, resting place of a copy of the Declaration of Independence and working copies of the US Constitution. There was something very special about laying eyes on these documents - it’s quite surreal, nearly being able to touch the very words that helped make our homeland what she is today.

As our brains grew more full and our stomachs more empty we made the transition to cuisine. I know ’yall are probably sick of hearing about food, but hey, food is culture too! Because we were in Philly we sought out cheesesteaks (what else of course!?). Not surprisingly, around these parts they don’t call the sandwich a “Philly cheesesteak.” They don’t even call it a “cheesesteak.” In Philadelphia you just order a “steak.” Don’t ask me how you are supposed to order an actual steak in town - I was not able to deduce this from our visit. We opted to get our steaks at an establishment called “Jim’s Steaks,” one of the cities most famous joints. An interesting fact: most people don’t realize that the original cheesesteak was made with thin steak slices (of course) and cheese whiz. Yeah you heard me, whiz - the stuff that comes out of the can! Clancy sprang for the original steak, complete with whiz, and I sampled a steak with provolone and bell peppers. Both sandwiches were sinfully delicious despite their less than glamorous appearance. My steak reminded me exactly how Janette makes hers’ back home. So Janette, if you are reading this, know that you could compete with the big boys in Philly!

Next, we took a stroll down South Street, the hip, new age section of Philly. It was here that Clancy spotted some incredible art that he had previously viewed on the travel channel. Called the “Magic Gardens,” the sprawling alleyways are the life work of Isaiah Zagar. Through the use of mirrors, bottles, bicycles wheels, etc., Zagar has created quite the sanctuary. To be fully appreciated the work needs to be viewed in person but this snapshot gives you an idea of the artist’s intentions.

After some more city wandering and some bicycle maintenance we started heading to our host’s house (I snapped this picture of City Hall along the way). This fellow, named Bradley, had picked up on us earlier in the day, his curiosity having been peaked by our loaded bicycles. Turns out he was returning a favor since he himself had gone cross country by bike back in the ‘70s. We so enjoyed trading stories - he still has the Peugeot bicycle that he rode on his expedition (complete with cracked frame which happened on the trip). We were thankful for the fine company as well as the shelter; it ended up thunder storming something fierce that night with thunderclaps directly above our heads and flash flooding in the streets.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In and out of New York City

It started out as a cruddy day. We asked five people for directions to a local grocery store; we got five different but equally unhelpful responses. Don’t get me wrong - I don’t always give the best directions at home, but not being able to find someone that can point you toward a supermarket that ends up being just a mile away is a most frustrating experience. To top things off, after stocking up on food I was the recipient of a most unwelcome gift. After running over a stick in the road I felt something smack solidly against my helmet. Wow, what bad luck - that stick flipped up and landed right on my head, and it felt kind of muddy and gross too! If only I was that lucky. The impact was actually a large chunk of birdy-doo. As you can tell from the picture, there was significant collateral damage. This bird should be overseas fighting terrorism for goodness sake. I’m positive that leading a moving target at that kind of elevation with such a crude weapons system would warrant some type of marksmanship award from the Marines.

Thankfully our luck was about to change. That same day later down the road we struck up conversation with a fellow named Wayne. He was inspired enough by our story to hand us a $100 bill. “Use half of that for your trip expenses and give the rest to charity.” Yes sir! This was our second donation of this kind; can you believe the generosity of some people!? As if our day hadn’t been made already, we stumbled across more good fortune after dinner. It was late and we had just finished our mac-and-cheese feast when a fellow outside of a restaurant asked us where we planned to stay that night. We filled him in on our plan to pitch a tent behind a nearby church. “I’ve got a place for you guys,” he chimed. Turns out this gentleman named Frank was the owner of the establishment were standing in front of: the historic Stockton Inn, a classy restaurant and motel dating back to 1710. He handed each of us our own room key. We would later find the accommodations to be not only representative of the period but also quite lavish. I don’t even want to know what a room like this would cost. Before it was time to hit the hay, Frank insisted we come in for a drink. The bar was beautiful, the drinks cold, and before we knew it the clock struck three AM. We said our goodnights and Frank told us that we should keep one of the rooms all week as to avoid carrying excess weight into New York City. I mentioned this was all free of charge, yes? The Stockton Inn: definitely worth a look.

The next day we woke up and made the journey into the big city. We arrived in Jersey City (right across the water from Manhattan) just in time to witness the shot you see here. What a magnificent backdrop. We quickly met up with our most gracious host, Meg, a manager at Goldman Sachs. She opened her beautiful home to us and took time to map out our first sight-seeing day in NYC. The next morning we woke early, hardly having slept due to the anticipation of exploring our biggest city yet. The NY Waterway ferry took us from Jersey and dropped us off at Seaport on Manhattan Island, resting place of several historic sailing vessels. The ride across the channel was an indicator of things to come - the ferry driver piloted the boat as if he was late for a rescue mission that started an hour before we boarded. Once on land, a few short footsteps had us walking down Wall Street past the New York Stock Exchange. We took a moment to photograph the famous bull statue before continuing on to Battery Park, one of New York‘s gorgeous green spaces. After stopping for a mandatory Bagel sampling we gazed into the void that is “ground zero,” the former site of the World Trade Center. The sight, though cleaned up and under reconstruction, still evokes powerful emotions. From here it was on to the “circle line,” a ferry tour that takes passengers round the perimeter of Manhattan Island. Truly a spectacular way to get a grip on NYC and its surrounding boroughs, the cruise afforded us spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, and so much more. Once back on land we made a beeline for the Empire State Building to witness its towering brilliance; like a needle infusing the heavens, she was a sight to behold. We wrapped up our day by meeting Meg for dinner at a superb Thai restaurant. I ordered the lamb vindaloo, possibly the only thing hotter on earth than liquid magma. What I tasted of the meal was delicious. Check please - and perhaps a borax bomber if you have one available?

The following day we began by exploring Central Park. We had been informed that we would likely get lost just wandering the grounds - yeah right I’m thinking. Just in case, we grabbed a map. After an hour and a decent amount of riding I felt like we had a decent handle on the landscape. That’s when I figured out that the map we possessed was that of only half the park! From castles, to turtle ponds, to countless statues, the space is a testament to New York’s fabulous park land, land that occupies a full quarter of Manhattan! Directly on the border of Central Park resided the Met(ropolitan) Museum of Art. One of the world’s most prolific galleries, I had the chance to lay eyes on Michelangelo’s first painting. So full of wonder was the museum that I created a separate image gallery on our photos page to showcase some of the work. Proceeding onward, we took time to check out the brilliant lights of Times Square en route to Grand Central Station. An architectural marvel in itself, I can’t imagine a more impressive way to start one’s day with public transportation. It was near Grand Central that we had some of the most scrumptious street food imaginable. Five bucks netted you nearly five pounds of heavenly Jewish cuisine - New York knows how to eat, the culinary culture proved that much. Strolling further down 5th avenue, we basked in the limelight of capitalism as we passed by hundreds of luxury shops that make this place the Mecca of retail. I dare say we didn’t fit in with all the pretty people in their Gucci sunglasses and designer jeans. If only they knew what they really needed… I digress. Returning to the topic of food, we found our way over the bridge to Brooklyn where we heard of the legend of Grimaldi’s, the city’s premier purveyor of New York style pizza. We devoured what could be argued the world’s finest pie and made two new delightful new friends in the process, Drew and Alicia. When all was said and done, people told us we had seen more of New York than most residents do in a full year.

In the morning we started our voyage back to Stockton and the Historic Inn. We arrived in time to catch a most exquisite dinner and some of the finest live music we have experienced all trip. The burger I inhaled was possibly the best I have had in my lifetime (but then again that could have been the beer talking). The one man band however, did have the most impressive vocal range I have heard in ages. He played Folsom Prison, American Pie, and a myriad of other songs with the full splendor and passion of the original artists. What memories.