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Entry date: 10-27-2022 - Trip Notes part 3 - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Saturday, October 15th started out great. It was a beautiful day, sunny and about 60 degrees, and other than Mark feeling a bit shitty, all was well. Rhondi and I took Bailey over to Haley pond and we took a walk with Ellen on Gull Pond Road. This is a really nice little private road near Ellen and Ned’s camp, and it is about a two mile walk up and back.

We had a bit of a scare during the walk as Bailey got tripped up trying to jump over a wire fence, but she was okay. After the walk, we headed to pick up the last few things we needed for the party at IGA and started getting prepared to host some family.

Sylvia and Hal came over, as did Ned and Ellen, and Mark joined us on the deck, as well. Rhondi made meat pies and Ned made some steamers (clams) and we feasted again. Mark and I helped Rhondi button up the house for winter, too, so we got some things done before the next day when we headed out.

It felt so good to share a great meal with people I love and get a little early B-day celebration going. I don’t do sweets very often anymore, but Ellen made some killer peanut butter fudge and Rhondi made a chai cheesecake that was great, too. I was definitely feeling satisfied when it was time to hit the hay.

We left about 6:15AM the next morning and headed towards Cleveland. Well, to be exact, Chardon and cousins Cindy and Jim. I went into full tour guide mode again and showed Marcus all my favorite things on the road to and from Rangeley. Truth be told, I didn’t want to leave, but what can you do? It was probably best that we were only in Rangeley for a couple of days. If we had stayed longer, I couldn’t have pulled myself away easily.

The ride was nice, though, on Sunday the 16th, and we made really good time. We stopped in Vermont and gassed up ($3.45 a gallon) before hitting a grocery store I know of and getting some beers (Zero Gravity stuff, baby) and some sandwich meat. I love that Green State lager. Kind of want one right now as I write. Hopefully it will make its way to Arizona at some point. East coast people, I highly recommend it. Nice and drinkable, or as the kids say, crushable.

Mark and I had many laughs on the road and spent a good amount of time listening to SmartLess, which is the best podcast for road trips. I complained about the drive across the top of New York a lot because I am not a fan of it. It’s not that it isn’t pretty, because it kind of is, but after spending about four hours going across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, it is very disappointing. We did six states that day (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio) and it was a long one. It was dark when we left Maine and dark when we got to Chardon. One of the highlights was being able to show Mark Lake Erie for a bit when you can see it from the highway.

Jim and Cindy had dinner waiting for us and a bunch of Yuengling’s, so I was a happy camper. Bailey promptly took a dump in their yard, and I was happy about that, too. If you have read about Bailey’s predilection for waiting several days to defecate on a road trip, it was nice to start off strong.

We watched the Yankees beat the Guardians and then hit the sack. I slept like crud, but not because of anything other than my own inability to relax. I don’t know why, but I was up in my own head about all the unexpected things to come in the trip. Having done the same route three times before, basically, with the exception of adding Niagara Falls and Rochester to the mix back in June, I was nervous about going across the top of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois for some reason.

We got on the road by 6AM on Monday and headed West. It was too short of a visit, but I hope to be able to spend more and more time in the Cleveland area in years to come. There is something about having family that you don’t get to see very often that makes you want to know more and more about them. The only way to do that is to carve out more time in the CLE.

The drive was pretty easy. We got turned around on the west side of Cleveland for a bit, or maybe in a town down the road, and saw a huge Stouffer’s plant. Mark and I were wondering if they made the frozen lasagna there. I remember it very fondly from my youth. What a treat it was to eat after cooking it for almost an hour. I ate a fair amount of that stuff in my day.

It stayed dark for a long time, so we didn’t get to see much of the area around Cleveland. By the time we got into Indiana, it was cold and grey. We stopped for gas just outside the home of Touchdown Jesus (South Bend) and it was very lightly snowing. Bailey needed to stretch her legs a bit but she gave up on that pretty quick and wanted to go inside the gas station. Neither Mark nor I were dressed for it, that’s for sure.

There wasn’t a whole lot that was too remarkable about the drive from Cleveland to Chicago. I’d like to try another route, at some point, or maybe some day I will be able to do the drive on the Canadian side.

We got to Brian’s house outside of Rockford by around 1pm. It’s a really beautiful spot. More on that later.

See you tomorrow.

Mark on the deck in Maine. Such a great day!

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