Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2017

Archive for the tag “Nonfiction”

Errands Must Be Run

BUSY DAY TODAY. I have a list of errands that sort of stacked up while we were down in Texas dodging hurricanes. Some things can only be put off for so long and then they will stand up on their hind legs and demand attention.

I needed to write a couple of checks (I know, I’m the only person in the Western Hemisphere who still writes checks.) and then I needed to go to the bank to deposit a couple of other checks that were in our bundle of delayed mail. High finance on a small scale.

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Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 – The Joys Of A Chicken Salad Sandwich

Throwback Thursday

The Joys Of A Chicken Salad Sandwich

THE OTHER MORNING, I and my wife, the lovely and the usually asleep at that hour, Dawn, both got up at about 7 AM. That’s my normal hour, but for Dawn it is not. I am her Organic Alarm Clock, waking her at 8:30 AM most mornings.

This “temporal distortion,” to borrow a phrase from Star Trek, threw off my schedule for the entire day. I was at St. Arbucks before 8 o’clock, back home by 10 and finished with lunch by 10:30. It was like having a chicken salad sandwich for breakfast. But – Why not I say!

It set me to thinking about your basic chicken salad sandwich and how incredibly versatile it is. I just had it for breakfast. It digests well with me early in the day. It has some bits of egg and mayo (made with eggs) in it so I think it can qualify as a technical breakfast.

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Pass The Croutons 

WE, MEANING MYSELF, MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND COLLECTIVELY WONDERFUL, DAWN, OUR EVER YOUTHFUL BOY, ALEX, and whichever of our friends will go with us, enjoy lunch together every Sunday.

Where we go to eat changes weekly. Some weeks we go out for pizza. The next week we might hit one of the 70,000 chain restaurants that have found a home in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s your soup today?”). You name a franchise eatery and it has a store here. Good, bad, or ugly, if they have a plastic menu they can make a buck feeding the residents of the Hautian Ocean.

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Waking Up From A Dream

I REALLY HAVEN’T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT MY SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS LATELY. There is a good reason – they are not having a good year. No, it’s worse than that – they are stinking up the joint.

For the first time since the 1980s they have a chance to lose 100 games this season. That hurts.

I remember going out to games at the old Candlestick Park and watching them lose day after day. It was not easy to be a witness to that. Since then they have had some glorious years – winning three World Series rings in a three year period. But that was then and this is now.

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“Do You Love me?” – Reblog from The Immortal Jukebox

Today we offer a reblog from “The Immortal Jukebox” about one of the early Motown Singing groups: The Contours and their hit, “Do You Love Me?”

Everybody dance!

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

 

 

‘ You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!’ (Berry Gordy)

Roma uno die non est condita.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes time to found a mighty Empire that will conquer all the known world.

So, from the founding of Rome (let’s say 753BC) to the final defeat of Carthage it was all of 600 years.

It is therefore somewhat remarkable it took Berry Gordy less than a decade from the founding of Motown in 1959 to establish an Empire that colonised the hearts and souls of music fans from Addis Abbaba to Zanzibar and Zagreb!

An $800 loan from his family became a multi, multi million dollar record company which would record songs that will last as long as we have Spirits that need lifting, hearts that need stirring (or consolation) and hips that just gotta move.

First, get yourself a base that you own.

Let’s show our ambition and call this base, ‘Hitsville USA’.

A Studio come Clubhouse where your singers and musicians can find competition and camaraderie 24 hours a day (acording to legend the local beat cop thought 2648 West Grand Drive Boulevard must be an all hours drinking den given the numbers of shady looking characters turning up at all hours of the day and night).

Next get yourself a live and play in the Basement group of musicians with Jazz chops who can fashion a wholly new sound – which is not jazz, not old school R&B, Blues or Rock n’ Roll.

Let’s call them The Funk Brothers and let’s have one of them, James Jamerson on Bass, be a fully fledged genius who will add grace and depth to every recording he ever plays on.

Let’s have a slogan calling that sound, ‘The Sound of Young America’ and let’s make so many great records that the slogan will became an every day reality on the airwaves and the charts.

And, we don’t mean, in still highly segregated America, the Black Music Charts .

No, no, no.

We mean the Pop Music charts.

Where the real money is to be made.

Open for Business and cast a cool appraising eye on all the would be stars who beat a path to your door.

This kid Smokey Robinson’s a Keeper – he’s got a notebook with hundreds of songs and he can sing ’em like a bird and work the Recording Desk too!

Not that I can’t write and produce myself.

You ever heard, ‘Reet Petite’ or, ‘Lonely Teardrops’?

Big Hits but Berry didn’t get the money!

Not going to happen again!

So, in 1960, New Frontier!, we get our first hit.

Barrett Strong with, ‘Money’ (bunch of English guys in Hamburg called The Beatles will learn a lot playing that one!).

Then Smokey comes up with, ‘Shop Around’ and by the end of the year we got a Million Seller!

Here comes 1961 and we get ourselves our first Pop Number One!

The Marvellettes, ‘Please Mr Postman’.

I got my eyes and ears on that Brian Holland – there’s a lot more hits where that came from!

Early ’62 I figure we need to find a song like, ‘Twist and Shout’ that will have all the White Kids, all the Black Kids and everybody who ain’t tied to a chair out on the floor and running down to the record store to lay down their cash.

Let’s call it, ‘Do You Love Me’.

I thought it might suit The Temptations but maybe they just sing too well for this one (I got big plans for them later).

So, what about The Contours?

 

Probably the best dancers of anyone who ever came through these doors!

Come to think of it Billy Gordon got a, ‘Wake the Dead and get ’em up Dancin” Voice if I ever heard one!

Next time they come through I’m gonna sit down at the piano and teach them the song one evening and record it the next day.

Gonna tell James to drive this one like a runaway train.

None of his fancy jazz licks – nail that backbeat to the Basement floor!

Of course, when Benny Benjamin is behind the Drums, the record is going to sound immense.

Immense.

Maybe I’ll start with a spoken intro and then let The Funk Brothers explode and tell Billy I don’t want him to be able to sing this song a second time ’cause I want him to tear his throats to shreds the first time!

Ok – let’s go!

Now, if that ain’t shaking ’em down I don’t know what is!

The Funk Brothers never let up and Billy Gordon’s lead vocal comes at you like a tidal wave.

Hubert Johnson, Billy Higgs, Joe Billingslea and Sylvester Potts make up a chorus that has an irresitble goofball charm. The trilling guitar comes from Huey Davis.

When I’ve managed to master some skill which has previously eluded me (and there’s a lot of them!) I just can’t stop myself singing, ‘I’ m back and I can really shake ’em down – Watch me now!’.

I love the corny spoken introduction, the false ending, the references to the Mashed Potato and The Twist and the bullfrog, ‘Um, Bom, Bom, Bom, brrrmm’ backing vocals.

Of course Berry got his hit!

Top 5 in every Chart and well over a Million copies sold.

They say it was the fastest selling single in the history of Motown.

Malheureusement, it was the pinnacle of The Contours career though they did make a handful of other excellent recordings.

They were simply too low down in the pecking order of Motown Vocal Groups.

And, when you consider they were up against the likes of The Four Tops and The Tempatations that is hardly to be wondered at.

There’s almost always been a version of the group out there driving a crowd crazy with, ‘Do You Love Me’.

And, by some mysterious alignment of the heavens, in 1987 the song gained a wholly unexpected new lease of life through being featured in the world wide hit film. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (even if they did, disgracefully, chop off the ending!).

One of the versions of The Contours got to go on a world tour and enjoy the big time once again.

Not so, for poor Billy Gordon.

For Billy died in poverty after spending time in prison (bizarrely with one time colleague Joe Billingslea being a Corrections Officer in the Prison!).

So it goes. So it goes.

Yet, every day someone, somewhere, has their life lit up by hearing Billy intone:

You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!

And then, if they’ve got any blood in their veins they’ll go stone crazy for the next two and a half minutes.

Watch me Now!

Dedicated to :

Billy Gordon (RIP)

Sylvester Potts (RIP)

Hubert Johnson (RIP)

Huey Davis (RIP)

James Jamerson (RIP)

Benny Benjamin (RIP)

Joe Billingslea

Billy Hoggs

Notes:

Britain’s Ace Records has two excellent complications documenting The Contours recorded legacy.

Tracks to look out for –

‘First I Look at the Purse’

‘Whole Lotta Woman’

‘Shake Sherry’

‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

I Think I’ll Take A Nap

 

THE PAST FEW WEEKS HAVE BEEN TRULY EXHAUSTING.

  1. Traveling – Which always takes it out of me.
  2. Funerals – Never a fun occasion.
  3. Hurricanes – We are all in overload on that topic.

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Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 – “Get Well Soon!”

Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 –

Get Well Soon!

dead deer get well soonHOW CAN ONE TRULY DEFINE what is, “Bad Taste” and what is not. Just as “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the same can be said about humor. What one person thinks is funny another may not. In fact, I think you can be rock solid sure that for whatever one person thinks is funny there is another person who won’t laugh.

Such is the case of the picture to the right.

I think it is funny and I’ve had others say that it is “In bad taste.” Of course, if I ask them to tell me the difference, they fall silent.

One person tossed out the “bad taste” thing, saying that the balloon was what made it so bad. I then asked him if it had been a Get Well Card instead of the balloon would they have approved?  That was met with stony silence. That was kind of nice compared to his whining. He was also upset when I said I would have done as much for him as was done for the deer.

Somehow I don’t think he’ll be bothering me again.

Judging from the appearance of the deer I would guess that it had been there for a day or more. The sympathetic balloon delivery person probably had seen it there by the side of the road and made a special stop at a local Dollar Store for the balloon. I doubt that the driver who hit the deer just happened to have the balloon with them. If he/she/it already had the balloon in the car then there was someone in a nearby hospital who probably got a card attached to a salt lick.

Deer are, in many ways, nothing more than big, antlered, squirrels. They don’t pay attention to the traffic and tend to stop and stare at the headlights of approaching vehicles. If that vehicle is a Vespa or a bicycle then the deer has a good chance of making it across the road. If that vehicle is an 18-wheeler Peterbilt… Well, let’s just say that chances are the deer won’t be home for supper.

Earlier this summer my wife, the lovely and with a heart of gold, Dawn, and I drove from Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Get Well Soon”) to Michigan. Along the stretch of Interstate Highway from Indy to the Michigan state line we counted about a dozen deer in need of “Get Well Soon” balloons. All of those deer may have been part of a suicide pact or they were scofflaws when it came to traffic safety.

Someone else suggested that they were all part of a club where they “played chicken” with the cars and trucks. I’d never heard of such a thing until he told me that the first rule of the club was, “Never talk about the club.”

I don’t know how much credence I can put into that idea, except that it would bring a whole new perspective to the old question –

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Would Somebody Explain That To Me.

OK, I HAVE JOINED THE RANKS OF MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE. I watched the season ending episode of “Game of Thrones” the other night. Now – will someone, anyone, tell me what in the heck that was all about?

Characters came and went… and came back again. Strange creatures and zombies were getting starring roles. Weddings turned into blood baths. That one I could relate to – you should have been to my Cousin Lulu’s wedding. The bride wore a Carhartt wedding gown.

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It’s Better Than A Gooey Tongue

THE OTHER DAY SOMEONE SUGGESTED that I needed a hobby. A Hobby? Like Stamp Collecting or Pickle Ball? I’ve had people tell me that I am their hobby. I’m not sure, but I think they meant that as a compliment. I suppose it could have been a diagnosis.

If I was to get a hobby of some sort I would want it to be something a little different, nothing mundane or unworthy of blogging about. It must have blogiosity.

I’ve spent most of yesterday and today doing some research into some things that I might consider taking up as a hobby. Here are a few of the things I have moved over to my “short list.”

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Not Today, My Friends

TODAY IS A DAY WHEN I NEED AND RELISH THE ROUTINE. I want it to be a quiet day so that I can think about the past, live in my present, and dream about what I see for the future.

I want my day to begin softly with a coffee or two and not much in the way of conversation. To do this I will have to visit St. Arbucks early, do a little writing, and then leave before the influx of Usual Suspects filter in. If I don’t I know what will happen. There will be anger and high blood pressure all around me. Not today, my friends. Not today.

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Swat! Slap! I Got Him! Aw, He Got Me.

MY SKIN LOOKS LIKE A CLOSE-UP OF THE SURFACE OF AN ORANGE. I am covered with mosquito bites. Why me, Oh Lord?

“Because you are a warm blooded creation that makes mosquitoes go ‘Yum,’ My son.”

Well, that explains it all. Thanks, God.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey a Gazillion mosquito larvae erupted into the air, all looking for lunch and I must look like the buffet at the Golden Corral Restaurant.

Welcome to post-hurricane Texas.

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Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015 – “She Just ‘Sort of’ Robbed The Bank”

Throwback Thursday

She Just “Sort of” Robbed The Bank

tripleI WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.

About ten years ago B.R. (Before Retirement) a female coworker whom I knew and liked working with, called in to her Supervisor one sunny morning. She said that she was going to be in a little late because she “Had some business to take care of.” Little did we all know that her “business” was knocking off a bank.

While I and everyone else at work were getting ready for another day on the job, she was out pulling into the parking lot at a local bank.

From later reports it went down something like this –

My coworker drove to the bank, checked her .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun to be sure it was loaded (it was), got out of the car and walked up to the front door of the bank. At this point things began to fall apart for her.

She pulled the handle to open the door – nothing. It wouldn’t budge. The door was locked. It was locked because, in an effort to rob the bank and still get to work, she got an early start to her day and arrived, fully loaded, before banking hours. The bank wouldn’t be open for another half hour.

There is an old adage that says, “Plan your work and work your plan.” My friend, the would-be bank robber, skimped on the first part of that. If this plan was to be as easy as 1 – 2 – 3 you can’t skip the 2 and go straight to 3.

So, there she is – standing at the front door of the bank, holding her shooting iron, and she can’t get the door to open. It was then that she made the decision to try again another day. Perhaps it was best to just go on to work like nothing had happened. No harm – No foul.

No way.

While she was standing there contemplating her “Plan B” the people who worked in the other bank, just across the street, witnessed this entire fiasco and had already called the Terre Haute Police Department. Terre Haute – that’s French for, “Mama don’t ‘low no bank robbin’ round here.”

Before she could get back to her car and go off to work, she found herself surrounded. It was not even 8 AM and her day was not going to get any better.

Since she never really robbed the bank, they couldn’t charge her with that crime, but they had a list of others to present her with.

It turned out, upon further investigation, that she had lied on her job application – in that part about “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” She had done some hard time a few years back for some other failed misadventure. This, of course, made her possession of the .45 caliber semiautomatic weapon a serious “No – No.” Added to that – she had no Concealed Carry permit for the gun – which was not registered anywhere. At least she did have a valid driver’s license – but the car wasn’t hers.

Fast Forward about three years –

I was tooling up and down the aisles of a store in town when I hear a voice behind me call out, “Hey, John!” This happens a lot to me. It is usually a former client or parent thereof – not this time. I turned around and there was our own local Bonnie Parker Wannabe.

“Hi, John. Remember me? We used to work together.”

Now this was one of those moments when you really don’t want to say the wrong thing. So, of course, the first words out of my mouth were,

“Sure, I remember you. Where you been keeping yourself?”

“Oh, I’ve been out of town for a while.”

Courtesy of the State of Indiana.

I really don’t remember the rest of the conversation.

I always enjoyed working with her. She was friendly, confident, and easy to get along with. Lucky for me she never needed an accomplice.

I’m Making Myself Hungry

LABOR DAY IS ONE OF THE DAYS THAT’S A HOLIDAY NOBODY KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH. It doesn’t celebrate any specific event or individual. It just is. I know that it is nominally supposed to be a day to honor those who labor. So how do we do that? We take the day off.

Personally, I’m always in favor of taking the day off. Now that I am retired I celebrate Labor Day almost every day and I’m getting good at it.

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Look! Up In The Sky!

Sunday afternoon, 8/27, about 4:40 PM:

Blue Sky! I saw a patch of blue sky. It was about the size of a kindergarten classroom chair, but it was there for a few fleeting moments. It’s a good sign. Not as good as a dove with an olive branch I admit, but it’s still pretty good. I saw that bit of blue through the raindrops.

I saw this when we were on our way back after taking part in a frenzied shopping trip to the only big supermarket that is open between here and France. France – The one in Europe.

The market was wall to wall people, all looking for something they can eat and drink. The town where that market is located still has no power. The store had its own generators going from the get-go to keep everything edible. There were police officers at every door just to keep some semblance of order. If I wasn’t so tired and in need of a shower I might have given in to my urge to stand at the front door and yell, “Soylent Green! It’s people! Soylent Green is made from people!” Only folks over 40 would know what I was talking about, but even they wouldn’t care under the circumstances. It was marked down 40%.

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Hurricane!

Saturday morning – 8/26/17:

The wind and rain continues without let-up. Our cell phones are still connecting. Dawn’s brother who lives a couple of blocks away has measured 4.5 inches of rain. The storm continues to move onto land, but slowly. The folks at the other end of this county are getting hit the worst and they are very close to sea level.

What reports we can get are putting the winds peaking at about 132 mph. A nursing home directly in the path of the storm has collapsed. We learned later that one person died there.

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Hold On Tight

8/24/17:

Not Harvey, but his older brother

LESS THAN A MONTH AFTER RETURNING from Texas we are back in the Coastal Bend Country on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This time for a funeral…and just in time for Hurricane Harvey.

We landed at the Corpus Christi airport on Wednesday afternoon and the hurricane warnings went up on Thursday morning. Timing is everything, ain’t it?

This is my first hurricane. For my wife, the lovely and meteorologically experienced, Dawn, this is not her first rodeo. She whipped into action along with everyone else in the possible pathway of the storm.

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

 

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St. Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Film Stock

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE FOOD CHAIN! I have to admit that was the nastiest and most snarky comment I heard tossed around on the 16th, the 40th anniversary of Elvis shuffling off his mortal coil.

In a way that seemed to me to be more of a celebration of that event rather than a commemoration the TCM Channel ran 24 hours of nonstop Elvis movies. That is not an easy thing to deal with. I think looking up at the sun on acid while eating ghost peppers would be less difficult.

According to the IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) Elvis made 31 movies, BUT the people at TV Guide say that he cranked out 34. How there can be that much of a discrepancy is beyond me. Of course, a lot of things are beyond me, i.e. MTV that doesn’t play any music.

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I Heard What You Said

I WISH TO MAKE A CONFESSION. I am an eavesdropper. I may look like I’m totally focused on the book in front of me or this blank page as I write, but I also have an ear turned to the world around me. I listen in on what other people are saying and I hear some incredibly inane interesting things sometimes.

Listening in is how I am able to do blog posts like that one from last week about the Real Estate mavens at the next table. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I’m a “Listening Tom.”

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A Few Days For Ourselves

LOUISVILLE – WHICH IS NOT PRONOUNCED “LOUIE-VILLE,” is where we have been for a nice long weekend. 3 ½ days is not long enough to really qualify as a real vacation, but you take what you can.

This long weekend is our first real time just for ourselves since our Ireland trip last year. For this trip we had no meetings or family obligations.

 We had not made any plans for our trip beyond Sleep, Eat, Nap, Eat, Sleep, etc – plus two actual things to do that would require putting on our shoes.

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