July 1, 2000

Well, we have successfully completed the first leg of our trip. Mom and I had tickets to San Diego but Larry was going to try his luck with standby. Of course, this was the fourth of July weekend and the lines were amazingly long. Alaska Air did an outstanding job of moving the line quickly and getting everyone loaded even before the appointed takeoff time. The flight was overbooked by 3 people but Larry’s ace in the hole was permission to ride in the jump seat of the cockpit. Fortunately, his luck got even better and there happened to be one seat left at takeoff time, so they seated him with the regular passengers. Mom spotted him next to a beautiful blond passenger; I couldn’t see him from where we were sitting. He told me later that he was seated next to an outgoing Mexican guy who pulled out a couple homemade burritos, which Larry readily shared, even though the airline provided more food than Mom and I could eat for breakfast.

The rainy morning made it a little easier to leave Seattle at the start of July, because I think there is nothing nicer than Seattle in the summer. Riding the ferry a couple of days earlier reinforced my idea that there is probably no place in the world prettier than the Seattle area on a clear summer day. However, we are making it our 8 month project to search the world for a place which might attempt to compete in that category.

July 1-5 Well, the warm sun and cool breeze at Lawrence Welk Resort (in Escondito outside San Diego) competes pretty well with Seattle. I guess that I even have to admit that the weather, at least, is definitely better than in Seattle (on a consistent basis, only).  v16group.jpg (68937 bytes) Visiting with Larry’s mother, father, brother, sister-in-law, and their two children make me feel especially blessed that we both have in-laws who enjoy one another’s company well enough to choose to "vacation" together. Mom is enjoying the sunshine here as well as the company. We brought some salmon for the bar-b-que so these Californians can get a taste of the Northwest; and Larry is pigging out on Mexican food as often as he can.

v21Mom.jpg (60126 bytes)July 6 We take Mom to the airport to fly back to Seattle to meet Pam and Alan (her niece and husband) visiting from St. Louis. Then Larry and I head over to Old Town, San Diego, for our last Mexican feast with Gene and Ruth (brother and sister-in-law) before they take us back to the airport for Dallas. We wound up in the back of the plane in row 28. While waiting for the connecting flight in L.A., our fellow 68 high school passengers broke out in song. The interdenominational church group were on their way to various homes after three weeks in New Zealand. Nice kids.

My son John had a stretch limo waiting for us at the airport and we punched all the available buttons exploring its intricacies. Unfortunately we didn’t find the lights until after we found the heater button. Not a good situation in Dallas in the summer!

j07car.jpg (61879 bytes)July 7 Anna gave Larry the keys to her BMW convertible (temptation time!) after we dropped her off at her office, so we explored the area for a breakfast spot. In true Southern fashion, Larry chose the artery-choker fried chicken, cheese, and bacon biscuit meal. I have to admit that my creamy chicken gravy and biscuit tasted better than I expected. "When in Rome, ..."

We got a tour of John’s new office space for idSoftware – very big! And we also went to Anna’s office space for Fountainhead Entertainment – John’s first house in Dallas – now used for office space and extra parking for John’s cars. Later that night, we played Blackjack and John explained how he counts cards – which previously had made him a big enough winner in Las Vegas that the establishment politely but firmly asked him to leave. The next morning, we left via limo at 6 a.m. before the two late night workaholics arose.

July 8 Flights from K.C. and Chicago were smooth and Pete and Cindy picked us up at the airport. Poor Cindy, who does not like to fly, always seems to get the rough flights. Thank goodness, I have not experienced that so much; it will be interesting to see how much longer my luck holds out. We will certainly be testing that out during the coming months!

Arthur Bryant’s barbeque joint was the first stop in order for Larry to get his Kansas City barbeque fix. Then dinner with Cindy’s folks at the kids’ favorite Italian restaurant, a movie and general visiting rounded out the visit. We also checked out the massive Casino complex – one of three in K.C. and a far cry from those of the Indians in Washington. This one was designed by a Disney architect and included lots of restaurants as well as a hotel and other novelties. KC group pic.JPG (79624 bytes) The casino clearly attracts many more people than the newly renovated Train Station in downtown K.C., which is now a Science Center, similar to our Seattle Center, along with movie theaters, eating spots, etc. I guess that illustrates what our general American public prefers to support.

July 10-12 Chicago! And the first day on our own! We started with a trip downtown in our rented car and hit a few galleries after parking in the Hancock Center, which brags about its "best view in Chicago". I think that the Chicago River Architectural Boat Ride which we took later was definitely more informative and interesting. The Museum of Modern Art proved interesting, especially a retrospective exhibit of Tom Feldman’s works. He has done all sorts of imaginative things ranging from sculpting an aspirin into a head, to creating construction paper mobiles whose vertical parts simultaneously rotate in different directions, to articulated octagonal sculptures of pencils, and huge open weave spaghetti balls. We happened upon the Uno pizza restaurant, home of the first American pizza and, of course, had to check it out. Starting at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, we sat amongst locals and other tourists with maps in hand for the obligatory solid hour before even getting a table. But we finally got our authentic Chicago deep dish pizza and it was good. A trip to the Museum of Holography topped our explorations before we headed out of the city with a million other people at 4 p.m. (Thanks to Edie and Jimm for their suggestions as to what not to miss in Chicago, although we never could find that art gallery area you circled on the map – but Inga got her exercise looking for it!)

July 12-14 The Madison, Wisconsin, Civic Center is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural designs as well as the Taliesan complex, which we toured. His "break the box" examples tempted us to throw out all our plans for our new house and create walls of glass and cantilevers. But we won’t!

Driving up the Mississippi River brought us through many quaint little towns, some of which had ethnic names such as Stockholm, Czech City, and New Amsterdam. The Anderson House in Wabasha, Minnesota, served us great chicken noodle soup and Double Chocolate Pie. It’s been in business since 1856 and purported to be the oldest operating Hotel west of the Mississippi. It has rained so much that the farm fields that stretch for miles on end are almost fluorescent green. We saw so many acres of corn that we were building up a huge appetite for fresh corn on the cob. We had to wait until we got to see Larry’s son Brad in Minneapolis, though, before we could find any.

Brad & Karen.JPG (98844 bytes)July 14 Brad and Karen are planning to marry on August 28. I’m glad that it will be a very simple ceremony since we will be in Europe at that time. We are expecting them to be with us in Mexico for a week when we return in February. They can call it a belated honeymoon. I will call it a reunion with all our sons and daughters-in-laws. I am looking forward to that.

The kids took us to yet another barbeque place (Dave’s Famous – Hope they bring one to Seattle!); Larry has to get his fill before we leave the U.S.! We were also taken out for lunch by Ward Hubbard, Brad’s charming grandfather who had come into town to see us. We squeezed in the Minneapolis Museum of Art as well as the Minnesota Institute of Art (which has an amazing collection of Asian art as well as our favored contemporary art.

Wishing them good luck with their move on the 28th to a lovely new home, we started driving back to Chicago for our flight to London. On the way, we stopped at the Wisconsin Dells and took a boat ride down a section of the scenic, cavernous Wisconsin River with its banks of heavily striated rock left over from the age of the glaciers. That evening, we checked out the State Street Brathouse on the pedestrianway in downtown Madison. Being a college town, this is an area somewhat like our Broadway, without the bleached, spiked hair and punk look. (Thanks to Peter and Carol for their tips on all those hot spots to see in Wisconsin.)

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