Back Home, Plus a Small Detour

September, 2018
By Jack Welsch

Under normal conditions, we’d have done the same as previously, attended the Big Band dinner dance on the first Friday, then continue on towards home.  However, my friend Carl, with whom I had worked for decades, invited me to his retirement party on this day so...

Tuesday, Sept. 11 – Wrighter Lake, PA to Wilkes-Barre, PA

We left lake at 10:20, checked in at Genetti’s in Wilkes-Barre, had lunch at Rodano’s and loafed around before dressing for the party.  We’d planned on walking the few blocks to the Westmoreland Club for the party but heavy rain prompted me to call my friend and successor, Dave, for a ride.  He and his wife, Cathy, were gracious enough to provide a ride both ways.  The party was great, I was honored to have been invited it and was good to reconnect with old friends. 

Wednesday, Sept. 12 – Wilkes-Barre, PA to Indianapolis, IN

After breakfast at the hotel, we got on the road by 8:30.  We’d driven an hour or so when I realized I’d left my blue blazer in the room.  I called both the hotel and son, Don, and arranged for Don to pick it up and hold it for our return in the fall.  Lunch was at a BK somewhere and, at about 5:30, we stopped at a Drury for the night.  After our free drinks, we walked across the parking lot for dinner at a Red Robin and got to bet around 10:00.

Thursday, Sept. 13 – Indianapolis to Joplin, MO.

We were on the road at 8:50 after breakfast at the hotel.  We encountered quite a bit of traffic and construction but only the big issue was on Rt 55 just before the Mississippi bridge where it was a real mess.  I then proceeded to miss the turn on the west side of the river but recovered easily.  Lunch was again at an anonymous BK and we arrived at Towne Place Suites in Joplin at 4:30. 

Dinner was at Mythos.  They made a big deal about their steaks, so I ordered mine VERY rare as I always do, saying something like, If it’s still moving, that’s OK”).  That notwithstanding, the first one delivered was seriously overcooked. The waiter wanted to wave the issue off but, when I got a manager, things changed rapidly, and I got what I’d ordered.  My final verdict is that I’d give them another try.

We were devastated to get an e-mail about a very close friend’s diagnosis of serious health condition.  Sometimes, e-mail is not a blessing.

Friday, Sept 14 – Joplin to Amarillo, NM

We were on road about 8:30 again.  Traffic was not bad, and the weather was good.  I dislike driving through Oklahoma City but this time we took a loop around the north side and it was much better.  We most definitely need a “Pike Pass” before venturing this way again, however as, otherwise you need a LOT of quarters for tolls.  Arrived Drury about 4:30, had the obligatory drinks in the lobby and walked up the street for a Mexican dinner at the Plaza Restaurant.

Saturday, September 15 – Amarillo to Santa Fe, NM

We got on the road in very heavy fog at 8:40.  We left I-40 on US 84 to I-25, then through Las Vegas, NM, and on to Santa Fe.  Passing through Santa Fe, we grabbed lunch at an Arby’s on the way to San Ildefonso Pueblo.  I’d hoped to return to buy another pot at Sandra’s Pottery, where I’d bought a beautiful one in 2006 but, sadly, it had closed.  We walked around and looked in a few other shops but bought nothing.

Having enjoyed our stay at the Inn of the Governors during our 2006 trip, we’d booked it for this one and arrived there around 2:30.  We were given room 127 which, based on memory and the pictures I’d taken over a decade ago, we the same fantastic room we’d had before.  We walked to Plaza and bought a tee shirt and something more significant. Linda had been admitting storytellers for years, but I’d been unable to convince her to get one.  The one we found here was unique and it now graces our dining room.

The Inn of the Governors serves Sherry and goodies in the lobby in the afternoon.  When we arrived, artist was displaying her work and very striking painting.  I got talking to her and learned that her name is Gila Joy Pascale and she is from Nurnberg.  The painting she was doing now hangs in my dining room.

Dinner was at Markey Steer Steak House at the St. Francis Hotel.  Our waitress, Kerry, served halibut for me and chicken for Lin.  They have only been open for 3 weeks but food, service and ambiance were all fantastic. 

Sunday, Sept. 16 – Santa Fe

We enjoyed a very nice breakfast buffet at the hotel, then loafed most of the day.  Just before lunch at the hotel, we walked to the plaza where they had a car rally with a lot of magnificent cars on display.  Dinner was at La Plazuela in the La Fonda hotel in the plaza.

Monday, Sept. 17 – Santa Fe to Flagstaff, AZ

Before leaving Arizona in the spring, we’d attended the Wigwam Arts Festival in Litchfield Park.  While there, we came across Greg Robertson of Rock Steady Designs.  Among many beautiful fountains on display were some made of petrified wood.  He explained that, while petrified wood located in the Petrified Forest National Park is protected, that found elsewhere is not.  His source is a friend who owns property in Holbrook, AZ, which is near the national park.  This is relevant here because our detour to Santa Fe was prompted by the need to visit Greg’s shop to select a petrified wood fountain.

After another hotel breakfast buffet, we arrived at Rock Steady Designs just after 9:30.  Greg arrived as promised at 10:00 and, by that time, had chosen a fountain.  After completing the sales transaction, arranging for installation in December and a tour of the operation, we were back on the road. 

On way to Flagstaff, we stopped at Arizona’s Meteor Crater for a look.  It was interesting but really worth the detour from I-40 and, at $16/head not worth the cost.

As we neared Flagstaff, we could see terrible smog which we thought might be the fires near Sedona, but I was from a smaller fire closer to Flag.  Getting into the Drury parking lot was a bit of a bother given the heavy traffic so, once we checked in, we just had drinks and the free meal in the lobby.

Tuesday, Sept. 18 – Flagstaff to home

We had booked a suite so we could have both space and quiet but, were awakened at 7:00 by workmen making a racket right above our room!  I bitched to the manager who was very apologetic and comped the suite.

As we neared home, we stopped for some basic groceries and arrived home about 11:00.  Dinner was at Hank & Sue’s.  Good to be home as always.

Here's what the fountain looks like in our back yard: