Trekonderoga 2024!

Before you read this post, you need to go read this one if you haven’t already.  Go ahead–I’ll wait!

Back?  OK.  That was 2018.  In 2020 I ordered a Cameo video from Jonathan for Amanda and played it for her on Christmas.  She loved it.

Last year we moved to the Keeseville area–about an hour away from Ticonderoga, home of (among other things) the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour.  Throughout the year they have various Star Trek celebrities visit and you can purchase photo ops, tours, and bridge chats with them.  Earlier this year I noted that Jonathan Frakes would be visiting in May.  I asked Amanda if she’d like to go and she said yes and so we went!

What can I say?  It was incredible!  The event was for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; but we decided to just make a day of it on Saturday, which was when our events with Mr. Frakes were scheduled.  We got there a little after the doors opened.  This was actually a little too early, but the web site warned that there would be lines.  (There were, but they came later.)  We got checked in and explored the gift shop and museum for a few minutes.  We then made our way to the local elementary school where the vendor fair was setting up and where the presentations and round table discussions would be.  I scored a complete set of Star Trek Fotonovels–a set of 12 for only $5 each!  That’s half of what they go for on eBay.  I had a couple of them when I was a kid.  My great grandfather would come from New Brunswick to visit.  When it was time for him to go home, we would bring him to the train station in Montreal.  While my Dad brought him to the train and go him on board, I would explore the station concourse.  I found a book store that had these Fotonovels.  I think I wore them out from reading them so much!  I never saw them anywhere else–I am glad to finally have the complete set!

Amanda bought a figurine of Will Riker.  She thought she might like it autographed, but wasn’t willing to pay what was being charged, especially since we already have his autograph (for the price of a stamp!).  We attended a talk about the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “Space: 1999” a sci-fi show I watched on CBC when I was a kid.

We made our way back to the tour site and had lunch at a diner across the street.  When we were done, there were 2 lines running halfway down the parking lot!  One was for the photo op with Jonathan Frakes, the other was for LeVar Burton.  We made sure we were in the correct line and waited.  We took a few pictures of the 1966 Batmobile, owned by James Cawley who created the Star Trek sets from original blueprints.  And oh look–there he is, walking around like he owns the place!

James Cawley

Later in the day I approached James when I saw him standing in the parking lot.  As I got close he reached out his hand and shook mine like we were old friends.  “Thank you for what you’ve done here,” I said.  He smiled and thanked me for being there.  Later on Amanda and I both spoke with him.  Amanda dropped her Dad’s name and James immediately recognized it, “sure, I know Kevin!” he said. 

The photo op was honestly underwhelming.  We were herded through the set of the bridge of the original starship Enterprise.  Frakes was sitting in the captain’s chair.  We stood behind him, the picture was taken, verified, and then we looped around and left the same way we had entered.  So that was that!

We had some time to kill before our set tour, so we went back to the school to look around again.  At 2:00 we returned for the set tour with Jonathan Frakes, followed by the Bridge Chat.  The tour was late to start because the tour ahead of us was still in progress.  Author David Gerrold was giving the tour and no one thought to send a chaperone with him.  The man likes to talk and was way behind.  We finally entered the sets and started in the Transporter Room.  It was…small.  I knew these had all been built from original blueprints, but I couldn’t get over how small it was!  Some of it was due to the fact that there were about 40 of us in the same room.  But it was small!  But I could tell later when I looked at my pictures that it really was what we saw on TV.  Frakes joined us to applause and proceeded to interact with us.  He took questions, told stories, and just generally mingled with us.  I don’t know what I expected, but this was nice!  He was genuine and personable and obviously actually cares about the Star Trek franchise and its ongoing legacy, even if he can’t remember every single thing about it!

TOS Transporter ROom

As he milled about us in the Transporter Room Jonathan eventually made his way to the control console.  There were a couple of museum staff there, but they got out of his way.  He had been there last year, but since then the technicians had beefed up the controls so that when you slid the sliders they actually “activated” the transporter!  The lights blinked the the sound effects played.  Frakes, fiddling around as he was talking, moved one of the sliders and tripped the effects.  “NO SHIT!!!,” he exclaimed as he stopped mid-sentence of whatever he had been saying. 

Jonathan Frakes

“No Shit!”

The tech then explained that yes, it actually “worked.”  He tried it again and the look on his face was positively…orgasmic:



From the Transporter Room we moved through the set hall to Sickbay.  During the Q&A there Amanda actually interacted with Jonathan, providing details about a TNG episode that is a favorite of hers (“The Host”) because he was sketchy on the details.  The look on her face in that moment confirmed that this gift was totally worth it!  She was SO. HAPPY!

We then moved to the briefing room.  There was a 3D chess set and other familiar props from the strewn about the table.  Frakes sat at the end by the computer console.  Amanda was across the room, and I stood next to Jonathan.  More stories, more Q&A.  And then, as he was making a reference to Deep Space 9 (another Trek series) he instead, in a Freudian slip I’ll never forget, instead said “Deep Throat 9” and didn’t even know it.  “Wait…WHAT was that…???” I said, getting a lot of laughter.

Amanda and Jonathan in the Briefing Room

The tour then entered the Engineering section/engine room.  Wow.  I had been amazed until then, but this set just blew me away!  Everything was so familiar!!!  And just as I have seen it dozens and dozens of times before. 

Amanda and Jonathan Frakes

After that, it was time for the Bridge Chat.  Those without tickets were escorted away from the main entrance to Engineering.  The rest of us left through a back hall that led to the Turbolift.  The doors were slid open and we were back on the bridge!  It was ringed with folding chairs.  The people who had tickets for the chat but not the tour were already there.  We were told to sit anywhere.  “But not THERE!” someone laughingly said to me as I braced myself on the arm of the Captain’s chair as I stepped down into the well of the Bridge.  Amanda and I sat in chairs right in front of the helmsman’s (Sulu) station, facing the Captain’s chair.  Frakes came in and took his seat and we spent the next hour with him.  After discussing a few topics and hearing a few stories, I raised my hand.  “I don’t have a question–just a personal comment,” I said.  “This visit is the culmination of a series of gifts to my wife Amanda.  I will make a long story very short, but several years ago I sent you a handwritten letter to an address I found on Google.  In it I told you the story of how my wife met you when she was 14 and how all she could say in that moment was, ‘you’re pretty’ and asked you to send her an autograph.  You were kind enough to do that and I am very glad that she finally has the chance to meet you again.”  Amanda was positively beaming at this point, and gushed, “and you’re still pretty!!”

“You’re pretty too,” Jonathan Frakes said.  And the whole room applauded.

We went back to the school to pick up our photograph and took the scenic route home along the lake.  It was the best day I’ve had in a very long time!

Jonathan Frakes and Us!

MUAHS Gift Bag

I’ve been to Tech Conferences. There are vendor booths with lots of “SWAG” to be had from pens to t-shirts. There are drawings for all kinds of goodies and gadgets. These things are provided by the vendors and event sponsors.

Last night I attended an awards ceremony for makeup artists and hair stylists. there were no booths, but there were gift bags! On our way out we each received a backpack/makeup kit full of product. None of it means anything to me, but I have to wonder how much money is represented by the contents.

L.A. Vacation 2024 – Day 4

Today was the day, and it was amazing!

I got up early and had breakfast in the hotel. We were scheduled to meet Amanda’s sister Jessica, her husband Bryce, her Dad, and his friend Beata for breakfast in beautiful downtown Burbank at 9:00, but I was hungry. We joined them later at Another Broken Egg where I had a very nice Eggs Benedict as second breakfast. Amanda had asked her Dad if he had a medium-sized box we could use to ship some things home, as our bags were packed pretty tightly on the way here. After breakfast he said he had brought a box for us and mumbled something about it not being empty yet. We walked with them down the hill to where they parked their car. Kevin popped the trunk lid open and started fussing with the box and called us over. It was a box for a tabletop air purifier and looked to be a good size for what we had in mind. He removed a piece of styrofoam, and then took out the contents: his Emmy award from 2001 for his work on “Life With Judy Garland: Me and my Shadows”! The Emmy remains the property of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, but recipients may bequeath or transfer custody of the award to heirs/successors—that’s us!

Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special
Life With Judy Garland: Me and my Shadows
Kevin Haney, Special Effects Makeup Artist

Flabbergasted, we thanked Kevin profusely and returned to our car and then the hotel. We were all “on our own” (no plans) for a few hours until we were to all meet in the lobby of our hotel where our limo SUVs would be picking us up for the event. Amanda and I returned to our room where we totally surprised the housekeeper. While she finished her work, we unpacked the Emmy and admired it. We then decided to walk about a mile down the street to the Americana at Brand shopping center (where we had dinner on Friday) and the Glendale Galleria mall. We had a good walk and looked in the shops that interested us. Amanda found a place to get a manicure and I walked around the mall. I found JCPenney and an Apple Store and spent time browsing until Amanda was done. We then returned to the hotel. I watched a couple of videos and Amanda took a quick nap, then a shower, and started to get ready for our evening. Then it was my turn to shower, and then retreat to the bedroom of our suite to change.

I feel I need to digress at this point to provide a little background. I rented my tuxedo in Plattsburgh, and I did so with plenty of lead time in case something wasn’t right. The jacket that came with it was just a little tight, so I asked them to get the next size up, which they did and which fit much better. I did not return the original jacket when I picked up the second one. I brought the second jacket home and hung it in the guest room closet next to the garment bag that held the shirt, the vest, and the first jacket and pants, the jacket and pants being together on one hanger. I bought a travel bag for this trip that when completely unzipped and laid flat holds and protects a garment bag. Then, when you fold and zip it up, it turns into a duffle bag which you can fill with other clothes, with a separate compartment for shoes. On Wednesday when I began packing my bag, I went to the guest room and opened the garment bag and swapped the original jacket for the larger one, zipped the bag up and packed it into the new travel bag.

Fast-forward to Sunday morning. After breakfast I inspected the contents of the garment bag to make certain that things hadn’t wrinkled during the trip and would be presentable. I was focused on the jacket and the shirt, both of which looked just fine. Yay! I put everything back in the closet. It is now about 2:50 in the afternoon. I have just emerged from the shower and start getting dressed for the evening. Underwear: check. Socks: check. Undershirt: check. To the closet for the tux—shirt: check. Pants:



No pants.


You’ll recall I mentioned that the jacket and pants were on the same hanger. Well, I apparently had not accounted for this when swapping jackets and had not packed the pants! So with an hour to go, I had three options: 1) try and find pants in my size. 2) attend the event as a high society Zoom mullet: tux on top, khaki cargo pants on the bottom, or 3) don’t attend the event. I grabbed the car keys and took off for the mall. I remembered that JCPenney had a Big & Tall section. I started with Macy’s because that’s where I was able to find parking. It was a long shot because stores like Macy’s think everyone is built like a stick with a 28” waist and the ones who have let themselves go have a whopping 36” waist. I needed something a little bigger and Macy’s did not have it. JCPenney was at the other end of the mall, so I power walked there and made a beeline for the Men’s section. Black. I needed black. I found black. Stretchy, shiny black. Ew…no. Denim black. No. Suit pants black. YES! But not exactly in my size…2 inches too small at the waist. I have lost some weight since the new year and my regular pants had gotten loose to the point I had added a hole to my belt recently, so I thought these would fit, or at least fit well enough to get me through the evening. I searched for a changing room. It took a minute to find, and there was a line of at least 5 people, each with multiple items to try on. After waiting about 2 minutes (which felt like 20) I abandoned the idea of trying the pants and went in search of a checkout station. Another line! I found another one with a shorter line and more cashiers. The cashier was nice and asked if I have a phone number with them. No. She asked if I have a store credit card with them. No. She asked if I wanted to apply for one and save 35% on my purchase. “No,” I said as politely as I could muster with a smile, “I just want the damn pants.” Done. Power walk back through the mall and Macy’s and back to the car. Navigate the traffic of everyone seemingly trying to exit the parking garage at the same time. Made it back to the hotel with about 5 minutes to spare. I got back to the room and sent Amanda (who looked fabulous, by the way!) down to the lobby to explain what happened while I changed. The pants fit! And I could get away without my belt, which is brown. And I was reasonably sure they would not split. I got dressed in record time and made it to the lobby with minutes to spare before the limos arrived. *whew*. (In retrospect I can note that had I opted for the khaki cargo pants with my tuxedo jacket I would not have been at all out of place. There were some very interesting outfits on display!)

We were whisked away to the Beverly Hilton Hotel where we would attend the 11th annual MUAHS Awards! What happened when we got to the hotel was kind of indescribable, but I will try! As we made our way into the lobby area there was a room off to our left. We were told that Kevin had to make an appearance there. I don’t know if “just anyone” was allowed, but we managed to make our way inside. The room was a medium-sized square multi-purpose room. The edges had been lined with tape and all manner of photography stations and a backdrop featuring the logo for the event in a repeating pattern. The center of the room was where we non-celebrities could mingle and watch. This was the “red carpet” for this event! People who were nominated for or receiving the various awards were led slowly around the edge of the room where they would stop at each station to be interviewed by whichever media outlet was represented. “Handlers” accompanied the nominees and help up cards with their information on them. We took it all in and followed Kevin as he proceeded through the gauntlet of lights and reporters. I scanned the line for the red carpet and there I saw Terry Farrell and Armin Shimerman! And a little farther down the line was Marla Gibbs! I took more pictures and some video of Kevin as he made his way around the room. When he was done, we exited to the lobby and the reception in the outer area of the hotel’s main ballroom.

It was LOUD! I couldn’t hear people standing right next to me, so I just looked around and tried to take it all in. Kevin could not walk more than 5 steps before someone came up to him to shake his hand, hug him, congratulate him, or some combination of all three. Later on when his handler Ned asked me where Kevin was I pointed in the general direction of where I had seen him a few seconds before and Ned said, “He’s probably working the room.” I countered with, “I think it’s more accurate to say the room is working him!” And that was very much true. The amount of sincere and frank admiration I saw exhibited toward Kevin was inspiring.

After about 20 minutes of this, the back wall of the area we were in gave way (it was really a curtain) revealing the rest of the grand ballroom. There were tables. Lots of tables! The first number I saw was 317. When we arrived we had been given tickets the size of business cards with our names and table numbers on them. I looked at mine: 16. Table 16 of over 300! The ballroom was terraced and we made our way down, level by level. I eventually found table 16 in what I’ll call “the pit,” the lowest level right in front of the stage. We were not next to the stage, but we were close enough that we did not need to look at the gigantic screens on either side of the stage to see what was going on. We were that close.

The awards at this ceremony are for members of the IATSE Local 706: Hair Stylists and Make-up Artists. I was wondering why actors like Terry, Armin, and Marla were there. A look at the event program provided some clues. Michael Westmore was receiving the Vanguard award. Given his many years working in the Star Trek Franchise I suspected that Terry and Armin would be presenting his award. (I was right.) Marla Gibbs was there to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ora T. Green, who has had an amazing career. Marla was at the table next to ours and fans of hers and Ora’s kept stopping by to share their appreciation.

I didn’t wonder who was going to be presenting Kevin with his award, for he had already told us. I was just thinking about that when Martin Short appeared at our table to personally congratulate Kevin and chat for a quick minute before he was whisked away to prepare for the ceremony. Martin and Kevin know each other well because of how much work they’ve done together.

Martin Short congratulating Kevin

While all this was going on we were served and consumed our dinner. I don’t have much to say about that because, well, we weren’t there for the food! We were advised to take our seats and the ceremony started promptly at 7:30, hosted by Melissa Peterman, whom we have most recently seen as the neighbor Brenda Sparks on “Young Sheldon”. The show began with Diana Nyad who inspired Netflix’s “Nyad” starring Annette Bening as Diana. Annette was receiving the Distinguished Artisan Award for her work on Nyad. She unfortunately had COVID and was unable to be present to receive her award in person.

Next up was Martin Short to present Kevin with his award. I don’t have much to say about that because I recorded the whole thing!

Kevin Haney – The Man, The Myth, The Legend

After Kevin’s award it was Ora T. Green’s turn. Marla Gibbs, 92, was escorted to the stage where she was seated in a director’s chair and said a few words about Ora’s career. She then introduced a special guest to help with the award presentation: LeVar Burton! Later in the show Michael Westmore was introduced and given his award by Terry, Armin, and Dolph Lundgren who, if he can be believed, invited himself to the ceremony.

The ceremony ended and we picked up our gift bags and waited for our cars to pick us up. All the while Kevin continued to be surrounded by people wishing him well and congratulations. It was a fantastic evening! Truly an event of a lifetime and not something I will ever forget. And I was privileged to have my beautiful bride Amanda on my arm the entire time!

My Beautiful Bride!
Bryce, Jessica, Ethan, Kevin, Beata, Amanda, Me

L.A. Vacation 2024 – Day 3

We had thought that today would be a day at Disney, but when I went to buy tickets last night they were all sold out for today. We had breakfast at our hotel again and this time pointed the car toward Huntington Beach to hopefully see some of my Family. My cousin Jason lives there with his wife Linda and their children. Jason’s Mom and Dad also live in the area. We explored the Main Street area of downtown Huntington Beach for awhile and heard from Jason’s Dad, Alan. We met him for a light lunch and some conversation.

We left Alan to visit Jason’s Mom Jane and John. After a brief visit they took us to Newport harbor where we enjoyed some local shops and took the harbor boat tour. The sheer opulence was staggering. I’m not sure I have ever seen so much wealth concentrated in one geographic area. If I wasn’t to envious I might be disgusted! As the tour guide told us, for many of the owners these are just their vacation homes. Their fifteen million dollar vacation homes. And yachts. Lots and lots of yachts! So many yachts.

After the tour we had an early dinner at The Crab Cooker on Balboa Peninsula. Then on to Jason and Linda’s house where we spent an hour or so getting caught up and enjoying each others’ company. We returned to Jane and John’s to get our car and made our way back to Glendale and the hotel to relax.

Here are some pictures from today’s adventures.

L.A. Vacation 2024 – Day 2

We started today with breakfast at our hotel.  We then drove from Glendale down to Dana Point.  Our first stop was the Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area.  The docent there was very nice and gave us some tips based on what we said we wanted to do.  Our next stop was The Shwack, a restaurant in Dana Point’s Lantern District.  From there it was a short walk to the Bluff Top Trail.  Very reminiscent of Rochester, NY’s Secret Sidewalk, this short trail takes you along the bluff high above the Pacific Ocean.  On one side are the front decks of what must be very expensive real estate.  On the other are magnificent views of the ocean and Dana Point harbor far below.

After taking all that in and lingering in the breeze we drive down the hill to The Ocean Institute on the western end of Dana Point Harbor.  The docent had told us that there is a stairway to the beach behind the Institute and so we went to spend some time on the beach just watching the waves come in as the tide slowly rose.  I’ve never thought the ocean was particularly interesting.  In fact, I find it generally very boring when compared to the likes of Lake Champlain.  But I will admit that I could spend hours just sitting there watching waves come in.  It’s hypnotic and peaceful; and in that respect I understand why people are drawn to it.

From Dana point we made the short drive to San Juan Capistrano and toured the mission there.  I can’t say I gave it the full attention it as a museum deserved, but it was awe-inspiring.  The church in particular gave me pause.  As a lapsed Catholic I do not feel a “call” to my Faith these days.  But the mission’s church, incredibly preserved and still in use today, is a thing of beauty.  My hat came off, my finger touched the holy water and then my forehead, and I just had to sit there for a few minutes and take it all in.  We toured the grounds and spent some time (and a few dollars) in the gift shop and then it was time to head back to Glendale.  Amanda, her Dad Kevin, Kevin’s friend Beata, and I had all been in the same car so far; but Kevin and Beata were scheduled to pick up Amanda’s sister and her husband at the airport this evening, and so we had to return to Glendale so Kevin could get his car.  (In retrospect I guess we should have rented a minivan!) After a bathroom break we drove down to Manhattan beach and had a very nice dinner in a seaside restaurant called The Strand House.  Our table was close to the open-air deck and the propane heaters took the edge off the cool ocean breeze.  The only thing missing was a view of the ocean.  It was right there in plain sight, but invisible in the darkness.

After dinner Amanda and I returned to the hotel.  It’s a good thing I like to drive.  Driving in and around L.A. is an adventure like no other.  I have many comments about the “design” of their highways out here, but I’ll save them, perhaps, for another post some day.  We are having to much fun to let these posts degenerate into a grump-fest! 🙂

Enjoy some pictures from today’s adventures.


L.A. Vacation 2024 – Day 1

We are in L.A.!  Travel yesterday was blissfully uneventful, especially when compared to our trip here last year.  We are in the same hotel in Burbank, and even in the same suite!  It feels like we were just here.

Our main reason for this visit is to help Amanda’s Dad celebrate on Sunday when the Make Up And Hair Stylists Guild honors him with a Lifetime Achievement award.  We also hope to visit my cousins who live in the area. Another day at Disney might be on the schedule if the weather holds (there is an ever-increasing chance of rain for Monday).  We fly home on Tuesday.

Last evening we explored The Americana at Brand, a unique outdoor shopping center about a mile from the hotel.  I don’t know what it’s like during the day, but at night it reminded me of The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.  We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and just strolled around looking at/in the shops before heading back to the hotel.

Today there is no plan—just some general exploring.  Dinner will be had in Manhattan Beach with Amanda’s Dad before he picks up Amanda’s sister and her husband at the airport.

A Day In The Life – Birthday Edition

Yesterday was my 55th birthday.  It was not remarkable as days go.  As a birthday, I think the most significant thing it represents is that my health insurance plan is now “portable.”  Some day when I elect to leave the service of the State of New York, I will be able to keep my health insurance coverage for a very reasonable premium.  While I have no plans, that is a nice thing to have tucked in the back of my brain.

Here’s how my day went:

Woke at 7:00am. Slept reasonably well.

  • Shower and dress.
  • Feed cats.
  • Breakfast: Eggs, toast, sausage, coffee
  • Watched a YouTube video


  • Empty/fill dishwasher
  • Organize recyclables
  • Get/read mail
  • Put plow on truck
  • Open birthday cards/present
  • Watch TV with Amanda


  • Key Bank, Plattsburgh – withdraw some cash in anticipation of needing some in the next few days.
  • Plattsburgh Spring – I realized not long ago that Dad’s plow did not have “feet” to keep it from digging into ground if it runs off the pavement.  I picked some up along with a power port adapter that “splits” the single port the truck has into 2, along with 2 USB-A ports and a USB-C port. 
  • Barber.  I recently learned that the spot where I got my very first haircut from a barber was once again a barber shop!  I decided I’d treat myself, even though there’s not much for anyone to really do with what little is left of my hair.  I walked in to Minglewood Barber Shop and a tiny wave of nostalgia hit me.  I remember Red Badger, my barber.  I could picture my Dad in his chair reaching under the smock and into his pocket to get me a penny for the gumball machine by the door (he always had one!).  I looked around at the artifacts on the counter–the owner was a collector of antique shaving things.  There was an antique couch which seemed a little out of place.  But it sure smelled like a barber shop!  My nostalgia bubble was abruptly burst by the barber asking me if I had an appointment.  I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that.  This was a barber shop–barber shops don’t “do” appointments!  You show up, park your butt in a chair if one is available, and you wait your turn while you listen to the local gossip and/or politics.  There are no “appointments”!  I said I didn’t have an appointment.  He looked at his phone and said he didn’t have anything for the rest of the week.  I said something like, “too bad…” and left.  Call me a grumpy old man and I won’t care, but I won’t be going back.
  • Auto Zone – One of the windshield wipers on the truck was starting to scrape.  I replaced it.  Remember when auto parts stores had books where you could look up your make and model and be told which wiper or oil filter you needed?  Those are gone.  You’d better have a smart phone and trust their QR codes and look it up on your phone.  Or ask at the counter.
  • Kinney Drugs – Picked up COVID test kits.  Amanda tested positive on Christmas.  I’ve had no symptoms, but want to be sure as we have plans for New Year’s Eve that don’t involve staying home!

11:00am – Home

  • Remove plow from truck
  • Lunch/TV Show
  • COVID test (negative)


  • Basement organizing


  • Visit Mom


Home to relax, watch TV with Amanda, and play a few games on my phone.


It was a nice day.  Weather-wise it was completely dreary, which is why I spent the last part of it indoors.  I would much rather have been doing some things outdoors.  Like yard work.  Yes, yard work!  If it hadn’t been raining, it would actually have been a great day to work on ridding our property of more leaves.  Whoever though I’d be saying such a thing in late December?!

Moving Reflections

See “The Big Move

Friday we finished packing the trailer.  Amanda got the cats ready and loaded into her car (left running with the air conditioning on).  I told her I needed her help get the trailer hooked up to the truck.  She guided me as I backed up.  I got out of the truck and started lowering the trailer onto the hitch.  Lower…lower…lower…until it bottomed out on the piece of lumber on which it had been resting.  I cranked it back up a few turns and put a the scissor jack from the car under the tongue and then removed the lumber.  I started to lower the trailer again…lower…lower…lower.  I let the hitch get to about 3 inches from the pavement and still could not remove the jack.  If the front tires of the truck were still on the pavement, they were only barely there!  I jacked the trailer back off the hitch, completely discouraged.  I had so thoroughly crammed the front part of the trailer with our stuff that it was too front-heavy.

Defeated, I sent Amanda on her way, took care of a few last-minute things and then drove to the new house with most of our stuff left in the trailer in the driveway in Potsdam.  After all, there was nowhere else to sleep but the couch, and certainly nothing to eat and no clothes to change into.  On the way to the new house I did a lot of thinking.  I was down.  I stopped in Malone and had 3 slices of pizza from Stewart’s for “dinner.”  I drank Mountain Dew for the first time in years.  I listened to Barry Manilow.  Yes, folks, it was bad.  I had initially thought that a bigger truck might be the key and started wondering where I might rent one if I couldn’t borrow one.  Then I thought if I need to rent a truck why not just rent a moving truck and transfer everything from the trailer to the truck and not have the hassle of towing a trailer?  I eventually realized that unless I found someone with a dump truck, the trailer was not safe to pull.  I committed to returning to Potsdam Saturday morning to unload and re-load the trailer. 

I arrived at about 10:30 Saturday morning.  Brady was waiting for me.  Two things made the looming endeavor easier than it otherwise might have been: 1) Most of the stuff in the front of the trailer was in small boxes (Lowe’s sells boxes in Small, Medium, and Large); and 2) the trailer has a front-side door.  Opening that door revealed that we could extract the boxes, which were piled on top of furniture.  And so that’s what we did.  We started by moving as many boxes as would fit into the back of the truck and into Brady’s car.  Then we took the awkwardly-shaped stuff out of the back of the trailer where there was otherwise still a good deal of room and began removing boxes from up front and piling them in the back.  After about an hour and a half of this I determined that the trailer might be more properly balanced.  We hooked it up to the truck and I was right!  In retrospect I think it could have been just a little lighter in the front, as I could tell my steering was affected; but we made it to Keeseville just fine.  (Well, the truck and trailer were fine.  Brady, however, blew a tire just outside of Champlain and we changed it in the rain.  Did I mention it was raining?  Yeah…it was raining.)

We unloaded most of the boxes and committed to doing the rest in the morning.  Sunday (today) was supposed to be a much nicer day.  And it was/is.  Mom, Kelly, and Dean came over and we all made quick work of the furniture and emptied the trailer.

For 7 months we have been coming here, to the new house, to move a few things and to spend time here.  But each weekend ends knowing that we must head home to Potsdam.  But not this time.  As I type this on a Sunday afternoon I am still somewhat in shock and denial about the fact that I am not leaving this time.  This is now Home.  Again.  I am here and I am staying.  I can go down to Camp tonight if I want to.  I can go there tomorrow night too!  I can see my Mom in the middle of the week instead of FaceTime or a phone call.  And I will. 

But Potsdam has also been my Home.  My boys grew up in that house.  That house has seen divorce, loneliness, hope, and much, much happiness.  Many memories have been made there.  But a house is just a house.  Home is where your heart is, and this new house is now our Home.  Moving doesn’t erase the memories.  And we haven’t 100% moved yet anyhow.  The house in Potsdam is still ours and will be until we completely empty it, prepare it for sale, and eventually sell it.  Until then, there will be the occasional weekends spent in Potsdam maintaining the property and finishing up the packing, doing some painting, and taking care of the place. 

But I’ll feel more than a little sad when I pull out of that driveway for what I know will be the last time, knowing that from now on I will only be a visitor to Potsdam.  It is no longer my Home.  But then I’ll smile because I know I’m heading Home.  Again.  This time to stay. 

(As far as I know! 🙂 )

Spring Vacation 2023 – Day 4


I went to bed at about 2:00am after my unsuccessful bid to reschedule our flight(s) home.  Sunday was now going to be all day at Disney and then straight to the airport for our 12:50am flight.

We were up at 6:00 and showered and packed up our stuff.  We left at 7:00 and drove to Anaheim where we met up with Kevin.  We got through security and made it to the park entrance at about 7:45 and they were already letting people in.

Disneyland!  I have been to the Magic Kingdom and other parks in Florida several times over the years, but I had never been to Disneyland (or California Adventure) until today.  I was looking forward to seeing the “original” and comparing and contrasting it with Walt Disney World (which will be a separate blog post).  I was not disappointed.  The entire operation runs like clockwork, of course.  But what is most striking is that Disneyland is in the middle of a city, but you have no idea that that’s where you are once you are in the park.  If you’re really paying attention in certain areas you might catch a glimpse of a taller building outside the park.  I heard a siren once, but only because I was near the edge of the park.

Here’s a list of the rides we were able to experience (in order):

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
    • The wait for this was only 15 minutes!
  • Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run
    • The wait for this was also only 15 minutes.  Probably because we were there so early.
  • Thunder Mountain
    • There was no wait to speak of.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • About a 15 minute wait.
  • Haunted Mansion
    • 15 minutes
  • Splash Mountain (we thought it had been closed (or “cancelled”) and were pleasantly surprised to find it open!)
    • There was practically no line for this, and the one that was there moved quickly.
  • Disneyland Express (train)
    • TRAIN!
  • It’s A Small World
    • The original, and one of my favorites.  Once inside, it seems basically the same as the Florida version.  But the outside is incredible!
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
    • A Disneyland original.  We went on it just because of that.  It doesn’t exist anywhere else.
  • Lunch on Main Street, U.S.A.
  • Monorail
    • `Monorail!  The original, but a shadow of its cousin(s) in Florida
  • Monsters, Inc.
    • The wait for this was 45 minutes, and they seemed to be having trouble as the line moved very slowly.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
    • We waited an hour for this one.  It was in the former Tower of Terror, which I did not realize until we were about to board the carriage.  I had previously avoided that “ride”, but my body handled it much better than I expected it would.  Not sure I’ll ever do it again, though.
  • Soarin’
    • 40 minute wait for Amanda and me while Kevin nursed a sore knee.
  • Cars Land
    • We just walked around Cars Land but I honestly could have spent most of a day there just sitting on a bench and taking it all in.
  • Pixar Pier
    • This was the end of our day and we were tired.  I would very much like to return and explore this area of the park more thoroughly.

We said our goodbyes to Kevin at about 8:30 and made our way to the car and drove to the hour or so to the rental car return at LAX (airport).  We boarded the bus provided by the rental car agency and were on our way to the airport.  We got close, and then just basically sat there for about an hour giving encouragement to our beleaguered driver who was clawing and earning every inch she could as traffic came to a standstill about a mile from the drop off loop.  Drivers in L.A., by and large, seemingly 1) are all beginner drivers, 2) have no idea where they are or where they are going, 3) have little to no respect for other drivers.  The result is frequent gridlock.  As soon as the driver got to the first terminal where she could safely and responsibly open the doors we all got off.  Amanda and I still had plenty of time but did not want to chance it.  We walked all the way to our terminal; this after having walked 11 miles already at the theme parks.  We checked in, made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare and waited for our flight.  We boarded and took off without incident and arrived at JFK earlier than scheduled.  As I write this we are sitting in JFK waiting for our flight which we have been informed has been delayed by about an hour.  With any luck we will be home in Potsdam by 6:00pm or so.

We are exhausted.  I think I said it before: Vacations are great!  But traveling sucks.  Our “vacation” was shrunk from what was supposed to be 5 full days to only 3 due to weather and the fallout from our flight being cancelled.  Yay.

Oh, and did I mention that when we get home we’ll have no hot water?  The boiler died on Thursday while we were on our way to L.A. and apparently nobody stocks parts anymore and so we are at the mercy of Cornerstone Services, who services the boiler we rent from Liberty Utilities.  If we are lucky, the part will arrive tomorrow (Tuesday). Who knows when it will be installed! This will likely be fodder for a separate rant/blog post.  But right now I’m just too damn tired.

Spring Vacation 2023 – Day 3

I set my alarm to get up in time to shower, get breakfast in the lobby at 7:00, and then head to the Burbank airport to hopefully sort out our return flight.  Amanda was already up and decided to accompany me.  The drive to the airport was only 10 minutes from our hotel and on a Saturday morning there wasn’t much traffic.  We got to the airport only to find no one at the JetBlue counter.  I inquired of another airline attendant and was informed that there usually isn’t someone there until 2 hours before a flight, but that I could call airport operations (yes, using the white courtesy phone) and ask them to page someone in case they might be somewhere else in the building.  I did so, but no one came, so we returned to the hotel.  I made a last stab at JetBlue by trying their online chat.  Still no change, but I was told that we could make a “same day” change to our reservation.  I said “same day” doesn’t do us much good if our flight leaves at 12:55am as we will already be at the airport and behind security by midnight!  “Unless,” I said, “‘same day’ means ‘within 24 hours’.”  She said that is what it means, and so I will set my alarm for 1:00am tonight and try one last time to get our flight changed.  

We headed down to Long Beach to meet up with Kevin and Ethan, Amanda’s step-brother.  We had lunch at Lucille’s followed by some browsing at the nearby Barnes & Noble.  After that we left Kevin and Ethan and continued on to Huntington Beach where we joined my cousin Alan Rowlson for drinks and conversation.  Alan is my first cousin once removed—a member of my parents’ generation.  We left Alan and headed to the home of Jane and John.  Jane is Alan’s ex-wife and mother to Jason, my second cousin.  We enjoyed their company along with Jason and his wife, Linda, and their children, Rex and Lucy.  Jane, a Peru, NY native, made us Michigans!

We then headed back to Glendale—a trip that took far longer than it should because, well, this is L.A.!  I said it the first time I was ever here and it’s still true: If New York is the city that never sleeps, L.A. is the city that never gets where it’s going.  Amanda joined her Dad to go see a movie while I stayed in our hotel room to relax, feeling a little drained.  As I type this it is after 1:00am and I am waiting in the online chat with JetBlue to see if we can get our flight rescheduled.

UPDATE: We’ll, the alternate flight we wanted is now sold out.  The only other option is flying from a different airport (ONT) overnight Monday into Tuesday and enduring an 8-hour layover at JFK.  That and arranging to drop the rental car off at a different location than where we picked it up.

Vacations are great.  Traveling sucks.