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Genealogy Road Trip 2021 Vol 6

“We may never pass this way again.” After a month of travel and four thousand miles across the heartland I’m asking myself “Why are we doing this?” We want to see America at a human pace. To be a tourists is to be open to experience the awe-inspiring beauty, the weird and downright bizarre; the history and the mundane. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the most important reason; we get to hang out (nay mooch?) with people we love in their own back yards. At our age, we have become acutely aware that we will likely never come back to these places. As the Seals and Crofts refrain goes, “We will never pass this way again.” We each are aging with the awareness of the importance of living in the moment. Greeting another day, taking the time to appreciating these moments (big and small), makes life ever so much sweeter and alive. Sept 1 - 4 If you ever have to travel across Indiana in I-90 and need a break from the butt numbing, soul crushing, corn field monotony of it, take our advice and stop at The National RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart Indiana. No kidding. We aren’t fans of RVs per se but that doesn’t matter. This is a serious museum with motor powered campers and “road-homes” going back to the 1920s. You can’t help but love some of these machines. Some were furnished heavy overstuffed couches, others designed to look like space ships. (Here’s another RV pic). I loved May West’s tripped-out RV which saw little camping but I’m sure a lot of partying. Highlighted in the “Hall of Fame” were little known pioneers and magnates who built and promoted the RV life. It brought tears to Janice’s eyes. Like the “Hajj”, the once in a lifetime Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, it was our sacred mission to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. It was an amazing trip down memory lane of all of the bands and artists we grew up with (including their outrageous clothes, guitars and video highlights of their performances). (See R/R museum guitar pics). It offered a “garage band” with real musicians ready to jam with anyone with enough nerve to sing, play guitar, drums, or keyboard. After 15 minutes of self-doubt and perspiration, Janice stepped right up and sang Elvis’ Suspicion selected from their playlist. (Jeremiah, are you proud of me)? I really love her for that. Sept 4 - 7 As we drove east through Ohio we were awed by the undeveloped land and lush forests along the roadside. Janice kept picking out old Victorians she wanted to live in. The attraction was short-lived as we would have to move to places like Bowling Green. Breakfast at “Waffles Incaffienated” in Beaver, PA, where we settled for death by waffles, was the highlight of our trip to the Keystone State. We are keeping a photo log of all the disgustingly unhealthy food we are eating and are considering publishing a coffee table picture book entitled “The Dr. Kevorkian Cookbook” for those intent on a slow suicide. (See Death by Waffles and Cannoli Death pics) I had hoped to spend two days researching my third great-grandparents (Joseph and Lucretia Sippy - parents of 18 children in the Pennsylvania wilderness 1795 - 1819) at the local Beaver County Genealogical and Historical Society. As it was Labor Day weekend, our timing couldn’t have been worse. We did find the church graveyard where Joseph was buried. Even with the help of the Pastor ( who happened to be finishing Sunday service) the graves were too illegible to identify his stone. After Labor Day we loaded up “MOBYDCK”, (the letters on the Colorado vanity plate of our Great White Whale of a van, (see whale picture) and headed for the Catskills in update New York to hang with my ex-sisters-in-law. My boys (Frank, Spencer and their cousins) Aunt’s homes has been a popular destination for family events for 30 years. Before parenthood, Elaine, Susan, and I were all actors in New York back in the day (1979 - 1985) I performed in their theatre company “Wild Hair Productions” in a now defunct theatre on 9th Avenue in plays they wrote. I also performed in “Starstruck”, playing a schizophrenic alien (see Neal alien pic) and my image continued to be portrayed in a series of graphic novels composed by Elaine. Sept 7 - 12 We stayed at an RV Park in Accord NY (home of the World’s Garden Gnome (see Gnome picture, Gnome is the one on the left) and rented a “tiny house”. Loved it. The Hudson Valley region of New York hosts hundreds of little towns, winding roads, revolutionary war era stone houses and hippies who never left the area after Woodstock. Highly recommend that you stop at Saunderskill Farms where we bought locally made jam and bought a cherry pie. The homemade granola was as addictive like crack cocaine and I had to all but restrain Janice from buying more than 8 bags to bring home. Highlights of the Hudson Valley area are: • Olana - Frederick Church (Hudson River School Painter) estate. The palatial house and estate was built around 1850 after his first 14 years of fame as one of America’s greatest artists. (See Frederick Church pic). • Hyde Park - America’s first Presidential Library. Home of Eleanor and FDR. Museum is a must for all history geeks. • A 2 1/2 hike up Overlook Mountain outside Woodstock. It followed an old road up to a ledge and fire tower with views of the entire Hudson Valley. (See Overlook Mtn pic). Trying to get from Accord, NY to Cooperstown NY is a humbling experience. I’ve never felt so suspicious of GPS technology. We used THREE GPS apps (Apple maps, Google maps, and the Sienna’s built in locator) simultaneously as they often disagreed. I estimate we made at least 30 different turns at remote junctions. I can’t count the number of times the apps would say “turn right (or left) at the fork” just as we passed the intersection. I kept yelling, “Are F____ KIDDING ME???”. Some of the roads weren’t much more than farm tractor alleys. After an “Over the River and Through the Woods” experience, we made it the Baseball Hall of Fame in one piece. For baseball fans, this is the Holy Land. We decided Hank Aaron was the best Major League Baseball player. In addition to being an outstanding hitter and fielder and, unlike Babe Ruth’s drinking and womanizing and Ty Cobb’s overt racism, he was humble and championed African American causes. Don’t let your life fly by without going at least once. If you aren’t a baseball fan…I pity you. Janice has a passion for weird signs so we are including a few choice ones. (see collection). Onto Boston for the next leg of the trip. Love, Neal and Janice
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