The World According to Keitho

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road trip

The eagle has landed

Posted by keithosaunders on August 19, 2010

After 3,653 miles, 10 states, 2 countries, and countless fillerups, we have at last alit on Key Route blvd in Albany, California. We are very happy to be reunited with our son Jake, who is sporting a new hair style and now has a pierced ear – a new look for a new town.

Our new house is charming and spacious, and unfortunately lacking any furniture at all, save for two queen-sized air mattresses which were purchased today at Target. The movers say that they will call us the day before they deliver our furniture. Using this formula I have deduced that the soonest they will arrive will be Friday. We are faced with the very real possibility of not having furniture until Monday. That’s a lot of meals out. Where’s an automat when you need one?

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The big push

Posted by keithosaunders on August 18, 2010

We started the day in Jackson,Wyoming. Sixteen hours and 800 miles later, we find ourselves in Rosedale, less than two hours away from our new home in Albany, Ca. Let me tell you folks something: When it comes to driving, I am an animal.

I was one more cup of coffee away from being able to make the entire trip, but what for? There is no furniture in our new home. This, of course, begs the question, where are we going to sleep tomorrow night?! We know that the movers are somewhere in California, but even assuming they have made it all the way to the Bay Area, what are the chances they will be amenable to scheduling an impromptu delivery? I’d say there are two chances: Slim and none.

We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. (not the Bay Bridge,silly, the movers bridge!)

In the meantime, here is your August 16th road trip marathon happy recap:

We drove west from Wyoming into Idaho, then down into northern Nevada. We had dinner in a pretty good Mexican restaurant in Elko, after which I drove practically 400 miles to our current destination.

There was a 3/4 moon staring directly into my windshield and it was fun watching it gradually set into the western sky. After it set I pulled off the road, just past Lake Tahoe and spent five minutes star-gazing.

Tomorrow our trip ends, and so begins our new life as Californians. You can have your airplanes – there is nothing like the road!

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Wyoming Day 3. Search for wildlife: This time it’s serious.

Posted by keithosaunders on August 17, 2010

“I won the rock, paper, scissors.”

“No you didn’t.”

“I won the laughing contest.”

“No you didn’t, it was a do-over.”

“I won the straight-face.”

“No you didn’t!”

Would you believe that this exchange, which took place in the back seat of our car between Lee, our 13 year old, and Lucy, our 9 year old, went on for close to a half hour? The kicker was that the stakes were for the right to say that Layla, our dog was either cute, or not cute. It didn’t matter, since neither would admit defeat, so Layla, at least in my mind, remains a cute dog. Fortunately we reached our destination, thus rendering the discussion moot. Part of me admires their grit and tenacity. Neither will say die, and both are committed to the cause, whatever that may be.

We had an action packed day of horseback riding and white water rafting. I enjoyed both, particularly the rafting, but now I can live out my days without having to do either again. Cross ’em off the bucket list. Next up: running with scissors.

As I alluded to in yesterdays post, everyone here talks about the wild life. This one saw a moose, that one played pinochole with a grizzly. On and on it goes. We had been here 48 hours and the wildest thing we had seen was a chipmunk.

Tonight we were determined to see something. I just wanted to see a moose. Yesterday we were told that our hike was a sure fire spot to see wildlife. What did we get? Chipmunks. Horseback riding? Nothing. Rafting? Well, OK, we did see a bald eagle, but still…moose!

So on the way home we took a recommended road: MOOSE CREEK ROAD. The fucking road wasn’t even paved. Nothing. Not even a chipmunk.

We were beginning to give up hope when we noticed several cars pulled over and people with cameras looking at a field of sagebrush. Moose!

Nope. It was a large deer-like creature which we couldn’t even identify. It could have been an elk, but don’t they have antlers? I asked a gentlemen what he thought they were and he responded that they could be muledeer. Muledeer? Get out of here. He made that up.

Tomorrow we’re going to attempt a 12 hour drive to put us in California. Wish us luck.

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Wyoming day 2: The goring of Keitho

Posted by keithosaunders on August 16, 2010

The first thing we were told upon entering Grand Tetons is that there is a lot of wildlife to be seen. Moose, elk,bears, and bald eagles, to name a few — each one more treacherous than the last. I’m not exactly sure how treacherous the bald eagle is, but I understand he/she can be pretty crafty when he sets his mind to it. Even the chipmunks, so I’m told, are mean!

The point being, watch yourself. Trouble is that I’m a New Yorker, soon to be second-time Californian. My mug-dar is fine tuned. Looking out for wild animals…not so much. To top it off I just saw a YouTube video in which some putz tried to get a close up shot of a bison and ended up getting a one way ticket to goresville. Not cool!

All of this was top of mind when we took a hike up to some beautiful waterfalls, and a great scenic vista called Inspiration Point. (Wasn’t that where the gang from Happy Days went to make out? Heyyyyy.)

So I’m walking up the mountain Fred Sanford style, the slightest sound causing me to pivot sharply and brace myself for an Olympic record 50 yard dash. All of a sudden I’m face to face with a bison the size of Maspeth. I began to tremble like Don Knotts as the bison arched his back and growled. In desperation I whipped out my iPod and hit play. As the sounds of Bud Powell playing Ornithology wafted out into woods the Bison turned up his nose and walked away. He said he just couldn’t gore to that kind of music. Once again the unpopularity of be-bop saves the day!

Of course this didn’t really happen. Had this been a real goring you would have been instructed as to which hospital or funeral home to send flowers.

We still have one more day in the Titons, I mean, uh Tetons, and let me tell you, it will be action packed. Stay tuned for possible maimings.

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Wyoming and me

Posted by keithosaunders on August 15, 2010

We’re in Wyoming in the part of the Rockie mountains known as the Grand Tetons. I’m straining against every fiber of my being not to make the obvious pun, but I’m fighting a losing battle. Who am I kidding? I’m a guy and therefore must leave no fart joke or titty reference unsaid. If you have problem you can always take it up with my lawyer, Fred Lite.

The drive through the Little Big Horn pass was spectacular. I like everything about this part of the country. Except for the politics.

Lee and Lucy got into one of their arguing jags halfway through the drive. It’s good sport for them. Nobody wins. Like a soccer match, or a baseball All Star game where the manager manages to burn through his entire 87 man roster in 8 innings. My older boy, Jake, who is not on the trip, suggested chloroform.

We’re going to hunker down here for the next few days before the final leg of the trip. We expect to arrive in California on Wednesday. Hopefully our furniture will be there to meet us since we’ll have run out of country by then.

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Born to be mild

Posted by keithosaunders on August 14, 2010

As we were driving across the beautiful state of South Dakota I couldn’t help but extol the virtues of driving on the open road– the wonderous scenery, the freedom to stop and explore your surroundings, and the feeling of movement. Point A to point B. I couldn’t help but break into an a Capella Born to be Wild. This is, however, extremely difficult to pull off while driving with your wife, kids, and dog in a brand new minivan. Also, real rebels don’t ask the wife, “is it OK if we listen to the ‘Nanny Diaries’ on books on tape now?”

But what a day! We drove through the Badlands which were breathtaking and otherworldly. The entire state is a feast for the eyes but the Badlands, with their craggy rocks and stark beauty are something else.

There is a motorcycle convention going on somewhere in the state which has brought tens of thousands of bikers. They’re all over the place. I pulled off one exit and was immediately engulfed by dozens of them. I’ve never seen so many spread out over such a wide area.

I have to say, though, they are very good drivers. None of them speed and they are extremely attentive on the road- no swerving in and put of traffic, or drag racing for them.

Although I didn’t go drinking with them tonight, they seem like a fairly benign bunch. Most of them are middle-aged and a few are seniors. I noticed that a couple of the women took off their t-shirts and rode around the Badlands in their bras, but that was the wildest they got.

We ate dinner in a pretty little town nestled between mountains called Spearfish. A man sitting at a table at an outdoor cafe struck up a conversation with me about our dog. He was sitting with the owner and they ended up inviting us to eat with them.

Richard and Frenchy had great anecdotes about South Dakota and were well versed in its history. Not only were they interesting, but they were extremely friendly and open. It’s not often that you are able to make such a quick connection, but when it happens it is not only heart warming, but life-affirming.

Yet another reason to travel by car!

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South Dakota give it!

Posted by keithosaunders on August 13, 2010

It turns out that taking the Northern route is only slightly longer than the central route, (I 80) so after a side trip to Barnes and Noble, off we went to South Dakota. We had nine hours in the car, but to be honest, it was never boring. I should have been a truck driver. When it comes to the road I am an animal!

The country now seems small to me. Just three days ago I was in upstate New York, barely two hours north of the city. Now here I am, comfortably blogging from my South Dakota motel room – halfway across the country! If we wanted to we could be in California by Sunday. We plan to spend three days in Grand Tetons, however, so we probably will not arrive until Tuesday…Wednesday at the latest.

We had lunch in Madison Wisconsin by the University student union which is adjacent to a lake. Our dog met a fellow Lab there and had a refreshing half hour of fetch in the lake.

Once you cross into Minnesota the country starts to feel and look exotic. It flattens out and you can see the horizon in all directions. There was a thin crescent moon which was setting in sharp relief against the dusky sky.

We had dinner in a tiny town in Minny, just over the Wisconsin border, called Etoya. The Twins/Whitesox game was on TV and it was good to get a little taste of a good pennant race matchup. Later I listened to a little more of the game on my MLB app. I have to say that the Twins announcers are enjoyable and call a good game.

We resumed our trek and we could see lights in the distance. I was hoping that it would be the Northern lights but as I feared it was a thunder-storm. You could see it from over 50 miles away and what’s more you could feel the electricity in the air. Normally a little rain wouldn’t bother me but we have our canvas bag on the roof of our car with some luggage inside and we had just done laundry the night before at my brother’s. Fortunately I had bought a canvas top and was able to wrap it around the luggage which seems to have done the trick.

The annual Perseids meteor shower was tonight. Just our luck to be in rainy weather, but lo and behold we drove through the storm back into clear skies. Around midnight we pulled off the road to get a look. There were plenty of stars, Milky Way and all, but I was the only one who saw a shooting star. Just one! I can see that amount any old night.

I just went outside our room to get another look but wouldn’t you know it, Sioux Falls is a big city with plenty of light pollution. It’s just not in the stars for us to see shooting stars.

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My long national nightmare continues: in Palatine, Illinois

Posted by keithosaunders on August 12, 2010

Apparently the fact that I no longer live in New York city has done little to lessen the sting of a Yankee comeback victory. Through the miracle of ESPN I was able to watch them put the finishing touches on a 6-1 comeback victory on the road against Cliff Lee of the 1st place Texas Rangers. I am nauseous just typing that.

The Yankees earn so much money,between their cable network, gate receipts, and merchandising revenue, that if they wanted to they could add another 50 million in payroll without blinking. There is no reason, barring a rash of freak injuries, that they should miss the playoffs. Ever.

After an easy five-hour drive from Eastern Michigan to Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, we spent a beautiful day and overnight with my brother and his family. We had a refreshing swim in his pool, which with the 90 degree humid weather, was much appreciated, and we made a run to Lowes where a bought a plastic, rain-resistant tarp for our canvas car-roof bag.

After dinner they surprised me with a 50th birthday cake. My birthday is in two weeks, but being that I will spend it in my new city it was great to celebrate it with family. The cake was in the shape of a hamburger, the significance of which I could only surmise was that this is the type of food that i’d best not over- indulge in lest my arteries go the way of downtown Detroit.

Next on the trip we will probably be calling an audible. We had intended to drive north to South Dakota and go through the Badlands, but we may have to arrive in Cali a few days earlier, necessitating a more direct route. This would mean that a trip through Nebraska is looming. Bring it.

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Kickin’ it in Canada

Posted by keithosaunders on August 11, 2010

21 years ago I played a gig in Niagara Falls with a group of tap dancers called Manhattan Tap. I would eventually become their musical director and enjoy yen fruitful years with them. That first gig was notable for two things: The best wings I ever had were at the Wing King in Niagara Falls. Years later, on a trip to Toronto, I tried in vain to find them but they had closed. The second thing was this broken down old amusement park in a Canadian suburb of the Falls. We arrived a half hour before closing time and so were allowed to wander the park and sample the few rides. There was an old, rickety, wooden roller coaster which afforded great views of the falls.

Today I was back with my family and the falls were no less impressive. Debra, Lee, and Jake rode the “Maid of the Mist” while I babysit the dog in an adjacent park.

We crossed back into the States into Michigan in the early evening. The American border guards were having a special: Three cavity searches for the price of two! Best deal ever.

We are now ensconced in an Ypsilanti Days Inn. It is incredibly humid and according to my brother, who we will be visiting in Palatine, a suburb of Chicago, tomorrow promises to be one of the hottest days of the year. Good thing he has a pool.

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Road trip!

Posted by keithosaunders on August 10, 2010

At last, after months of angst, sadness, and anticipation, our road trip has begun. Four humans and a dog traverse the nation with a mission: A mission to be the first family ever to play pinochle with Bigfoot.

For our opening act we have left the nation. We are staying overnight outside of Niagara Falls in St Catherines, Canada. Tomorrow, assuming we are denied political asylum, we will cross back into the U.S. near Detroit, making a beeline for that bastion of bastards, Grand Rapids, MI.

We got a late start today. After dropping our oldest son Jake at the Kingston bus depot (he and a friend will fly to San Fran and will arrive several days before us) we took off west on Rt 28 through the Catskills, eventually connecting with the NY State Throughway at Syracuse.

We now know the best way to end a drought: Put your luggage on the roof of your car in a canvas bag. I haven’t seen such rain since I attended an all day Irwin Allen festival. You remember that picture – “The Monsooning.”

Somehow I was duped into sharing a bed with my son Lee who sleeps in a state of perpetual motion. I’ll be lucky if I can requisition 1/5 of the covers. Across the way my daughter, Lucy and my wife, Debra sleep like babies, as is Layla the dog, whose day consisted of getting to know our car’s passenger side floor mat.

The photo was taken outside of a Mexican restaurant in Syracuse.

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