Travels 27.1: Captains Log

There will be a posting after this one goes out.  When? I can’t say.  But, the next blog Travels 27.2 will be a concise explanation for why 27.1 is necessary.  It will reveal in bone-chilling, spine-tingling and shocking details, the series of wrong moves made by me, the so-called Captain, as we arrived at our home on or about 7:30 pm, Friday last.  I mean, why was I expected to remember that I had two bikes mounted atop the car when I attempted to pull it into the garage? Give me a break!  I had enough stuff on my mind, like getting into the house and getting Travels 27 out to my expectant fans.  Families had put off weddings and Bar mitzvahs to gather around the laptop and read the closing chapter.  Bowling tournaments were cancelled.  High school football games all across America extended half-time. Homecomings were delayed.  Guys doing some heavy making out behind the Grand Stand of the Owego Fair Grounds, stopped the biological urge and pulled out their Mini (iPad).  Internet cafes had extended their hours to allow the blog readers to drink more Mocha and Latte in anticipation of #27.


  • Total miles travelled—–8,998.5
  • Average Mpg—–10
  • Duration of trip—–September 18 – November 8, 2013
  • Number of campsites—–47
  • Temperature range experienced—–96F to 27F
  • Number of states visited—–20
  • Approx. number of photos taken on two cell phones and a serious Nikon D3200—–320
  • Approx. number of times we dumped our “black water” tank—–10
  • Number of showers taken in the R-Pod—–0
  • Most awesome moment—–Looking into the Grand Canyon
  • Saddest moment—–The eyes of the Lakota people at Pine Ridge Reservation
  • Most frustrating time—–Being locked out of Yellowstone National Park during the stupid government shutdown
  • Most terrifying moment—–Watching how terrified my wife was on the Tioga Pass onto the Eastern Sierras
  • Least terrifying moment—–Taking a nap in the R-Pod with a Native American Flut player CD
  • Total number of times watches and clocks were changed by an hour—–7
  • Number of Audio Books listened while driving—–4
  • Number of MacDonalds Fried Chicken meals—–2
  • Number of times we were stopped by police for any reason—–0
  • Days snowed on—–3
  • Approx. number of rolls of RV toilet paper used—–9
  • Approx. number of compliments on the “cuteness” of the R-Pod—–12
  • Number of confrontations with hostile motorcycle gangs in the Arizona desert—–0
  • Number of rattlesnakes seen in road—–1
  • Number of “Beware of Rattlesnakes” signs seen—–1
  • Number of times Pat asked to take an RV break and stayed in a motel—–6
  • Number of motels we stayed in for an RV break—–0
  • Number of signs for legal brothels seen in Nevada—–3
  • Number visited by Pat (just to use the rest room)—–0
  • Number of movies on DVD brought on trip—–150
  • Number watched—–2
  • Most annoying thing encountered—–$20.00 to 25.00 admission fee to most National Parks (The land is ours…it should be free)


Travels 20: The Man Who Wept

To: The Department of Late Sightseers to Iconic Places


Well, sir, he’s out of our jurisdiction now.  We monitored his situation carefully and kept him under close watch.  As you know, we had choppers in the air and “unmarks” following him in black vans that had those cool smoked glass windows, and thanks for that, by the way.

Funny thing about the old guy…most of us started taking a liking to him.  I mean he is something of a freeloader, the way he goes into a MacDonald’s and buys a coffee.  But never has anything to eat except those two times he had a chicken salad.  He only goes there to use their free Wi-Fi to post those nutty blogs about his trip.  But, there was something about the guy we began to admire.  Like the way he would slow down in these desert towns to let other RV’s make a turn…or to let an old lady cross the street.  Our hidden mikes picked him up, on these occasions mumbling something about getting indulgences from someone in Rome to make his stay in Purgatory quicker and less painful.  He’s so sure he’s going there, wherever that is.  Isn’t Purgatory in Texas or something?

Anyway, we got him safely to the Observation area on the South Rim, even though he did his best to throw off our tail by pretending to get lost trying to find the RV Park.  I mean, can’t the guy read a map? Or does he rely on MapQuest?

Our agents stayed clear as we let his wife take him around the National Park Visitor Center.  He got his little passport stamped and then headed for the bookstore.  It was like he was delaying his approach to the viewing area.  Like he was avoiding it for some reason.  We thought he was afraid of heights or something but, little by little, his wife led him toward the Rim.  He began to slow down and started to limp, favoring his right leg.  Agents overheard him complaining about the pain in his shin and his lower back.  We only found out later that he is due to get his back operated on in New York City in November.

So, he took the arm of his wife and limped toward the fence at the Rim.  He kept his head lowered and didn’t try to sneak a peak at the view.

This is when a few of the guys started taking bets on whether or not he’d make it to the very edge and look in.  I lost a sawbuck, and Barky, the agent that everyone says looks like a Pug, lost a finback.  Elvis, the agent with the sideburns, put in ten slugs thinking he’d fool us into thinking they were quarters.  Doesn’t matter, he lost the slugs to the Pug, Barky.  Mariah, the only woman agent we could get our hands on, stopped off at the women’s rest room to fix her lipstick.  We saw her last, walking off with the Dr. Pepper deliveryman.

She always liked men in uniforms.

Oh, yeah, the old gray bearded guy: well he got to the top rock of the steps leading down to the Mather Vista.  He was clearly in pain.

Then the craziest thing happened.  He stopped cold and opened his eyes.  His wife looked up at his face.  I, myself, saw tears rolling down his cheeks.  The man was crying.

He probably felt glad he had his expensive sunglasses on.  That way all the German and Japanese tourists wouldn’t see him sob.  His wife hugged him, probably thinking that his leg pain was getting worse.

But, it wasn’t the leg at all.  He stepped to the railing and stood looking out and then down.

He took his iPhone out and snapped a picture and immediately texted it to his son in New York City.  He sat down on a flat rock and put his phone down.  I glanced at his text message and it read.  “Finally!  And after a lifetime of wanting to see this”.

He got up and walked back to the railing.  I stood next to his wife.  I pretended to be interested in the view.  I wondered what had moved him so much about a big gulch and a bunch of rocks.

He wasn’t saying anything but I began to pick up on some strange vibes he was emitting.  I felt that he was moved by the grandeur of the view.  This was nearly a religious experience to him.  What he was trying to take in was too much for his brain.  He was showing signs of sensory overload.  Trust me, sir; I’ve seen that look before…like when we had to keep tabs on a trucker while he sat looking at the pole-dancers at the Boom Boom Room.  It’s more than they can take in.

This was definitely more than the old gray haired guy could handle.

He left, wiping his cheeks.  I heard him mutter something about never having seen anything like this before…and probably never will.

So, as I said, he’s out of our area now.  He’s seen it.  There is no one else on our list who hasn’t’ seen the Grand Canyon.  No one is left.

Wait a minute, we just ran a Google search on his son.  He hasn’t seen it yet, either.

Wonder how long he’ll take.

Hope it’s not “like father like son”.  The kid has to see it soon before Microsoft buys the place.

After it was closed a few weeks ago due to the shut down, there was talk of leasing it to private concerns.  It was a Republican plan.  You know save money.

After all, someone in Washington said, who cares about these things anymore anyway?


Travels 19: The Last Man And His Wife

An amazing discovery has been made here in northern Arizona by Federal, Local and International Agencies.  As unbelievable as it seems, these officials (speaking only on condition of anonymity) have located the last American citizen who has never seen the Grand Canyon.  It is believed that his wife is traveling with him and has been known to make similar claims about never having been to the most famous American Landmark in the world.

“The oddest thing about this whole sordid affair is that the guy majored in geology for a time.  And, gosh, he spent his 33 year teaching career in the earth sciences” said one Deputy.  “There’s just no excuse for that kind of behavior.  We can sort of understand how his wife found herself in this position, after all, she’s from Queens.  But this guy is from Upstate New York, he should know better…and he’s acting like someone from…I don’t know, Ohio, I guess.”

“We got onto his tail when one of our tech guys was listening in on the Internet for hackers.  Then we ran across this goofy series of blogs this guy was posting.  We secretly attached a GPS device on the fender of his tiny RV…I mean, good lord, the thing is no bigger than a few phone booths tied together.  Anyway, we tracked his movements after a long time spent in a place called Orting, WA.  He was there to visit his grandson.  After his alleged visit was over we interviewed his daughter.

“Well, there must be some mistake,” she said.  “Elias’ grandfather ran away with a stripper from Mexicali back in ’79”.

The Deputy continued: “He’s an odd sort of guy.  We’ve observed him driving through Death Valley, stop the car, get out and walk about 100 paces into the desert and sit for about 8 minutes.  Then he comes back to the car and complains that he’s hot.  I mean, it’s 96 degrees out there…what does he expect?”

“So, now that the man and his wife are under deep surveillance, he’s going to be given a police escort to the South Rim on Monday, Oct. 28.  There will be two choppers from the Arizona Air National Guard to provide air coverage.  Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that he finally makes it to the Grand Canyon.  He’ll be happy for a while.”

“Then he’ll probably find something else to complain about.”

“But just between you and me, I sort of understand the frustration of the old guy.  I mean, I’m embarrassed to say it but I’ve never been to Teaneck.”