Sunday, August 25, 2019

The End of the Line

That's one for the books. An almost 80-hour train ride, a holiday in Cleveland capped by a Zombies concert and a kick-ass party in Sacramento visiting with old friends not seen in decades - like Lyn, Rich, Roger, Bonnie, Joyce and with so many more along with the new friends that were there all along, it just took something as basic as saying hello to start the ball rolling. Something so basic yet so tough years ago when some of us were so shy.

Who knew Don (aka Stu) Draughon could sing? And act? That Valerie Boyle - she of the huge ear to ear grin - is so silly, funny and such a joy to be around. How about the statuesque beauty from high school - Nona Thompson - now Nona Kim. Still a statuesque beauty and so very friendly and smiling as she talked to old friends and classmates?

I actually talked to a fellow I had been classmates with from at least 8th grade - Cameron Courtnage. I finally asked him why we always called him Randy (it was a family thing) and then I embarrassed him a little when I reminded him of the language he and Eric Niederost had created way back in the day. Randy said he'd hoped it was dead and buried LOL. Truth be told I suspect he was proud someone remembered it. Was it the original geek speak?

There was a special treat for Jack Thompson and I as our wrestling coach, Marv Rodriguez was there. Marv the Mighty Muscular Molecule - who was on the mat with me every day from first practice and coached me to 3rd in the HAAL my first year and 2nd in the HAAL, 3rd in the North Coast Sections and to the state tournament my 2nd year. To Jack, Marv was a surrogate father and mentor as well as a coach - a few tears were definitely shed by the three of us. Marv Rodriguez is one of the finest people I have ever known.

There is a general feeling, I think that reunions mean old cliques get together and reminisce and renew those old prejudice. If that was happening I certainly did not see it. The evening was filled with amiable reconnections and loud, raucous laughter. This was a collection of people thoroughly enjoying the turning back of time. 

And then there was the no longer with us wall so lovingly and respectfully maintained by Rudy Cayabyab. That wall continues to grow and it hurts so much to see it. Damn you Rudy. And then, as if by magic memories flood back and fill you with the good times shared with those friends. Bless you Rudy. Thank you Rudy. We need to remember our old friends no longer with us - they are part of what and who we are today. 

I have a special relationship with a certain short blonde classmate. It is our nature to each continually tease the other and has always been thus. This party was my first chance to meet her husband, so I stuck out my hand and said Hi Del - I'm Chuck McConvey. He smiled and said "so you're guy I have been hearing about all these years." He stood up, stuck out his hand and asked me what kind of beer I wanted. A really nice guy.

Then there was my new friend Vicki Martinez being a social butterfly - that came as a shock to her I think, Her grin was huge as she talked to people - lots of people. 

There were several old friends I hadn't seen in over 50 years - like Rich Adkins and Gary Hall. Nobody missed a beat - it was like we see each other all the time.

Then there is Jim Furr -the last time I saw him was New Year's Eve 1968, and he became  my partner in crime on this reunion trip - you have seen the results with his photographic talent. When we were freshmen some friends and I carried  Jim on our Blue Laws float.  I guess you could say payback was a bitch as Jim pushed me around Cleveland  and several hotels. But documenting our rail adventure has been some serious fun.

To make this something of a living, breathing document I'd like to hear your impressions and let you share any special reunion memories if you would like to. Send them to me via messenger or simply email me at I will add your memory to the blog. We can - and should, I think, share in the experience.
One last thing. Rumor has it that the party was so successful our exceptional team of planners said something about a 75th birthday party to which I say not yes but HELL YES! Joyce, Betty and Mary have created a monster. It is only fitting that we feed the beast and so lets it again! Without the road trip, though.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Beginning of the End

Today is the day. The big 70th Birthday Soiree is happening - people are checking in,many already here. Jim and I were picked up at the Quality Inn by Joyce Van Kempen and her hubby in a snazzy maroon mini van where once again the magic of Mike , our fabulous cabby in Cleveland got my overly large framed happily ensconced  and ready to go. And the welcome kiss from Joyce helped LOL. Old memories came flooding back - tales of Barry Gilbert,our counselor and his kids - who were last seen diving from the sofa in their living room on to the large bear-like guy on the floor. Yes - even Brad Gilbert - future pro tennis player got in his licks. Barry was laughing at the scene along with my future wife Lynn, Mrs. G (Elaine) not so much.

Welcome to the Holiday Inn - a bigger  place than the Hyatt Rgency in Cleveland. We turned the first corner and entered a hug fest. Bonnie Hurlbut, Lyn Schuller, Vicki Martinez all got into the act and I saw my old friend Roger Hurlbut for the first time in 50 plus years. He and I reminisced about catching the bus to Longwood (6th grade) in front of his house and our combined 60 yard tackle eligible/lateral to the fullback play in a football game. Of course when I tell that story and Roger is not nearby, I gained 59 of those 60 yards and Roger bulled his way to one more. Ahem.

Of course Lyn and I immediately started teasing each other which we have done since the night we met as other people's dates at the Junior Prom. Funnily enough she still has that prom pic but the one of us at the Christmas dance is nowhere to be found. Probably has so many dart holes in it it has gone away. Some things never change. Nor will the warm feeling deep down for Lyn. BFF is a fitting label - in this case it is the truth.

And then there is my new friend Vicki Martinez. An equally aggressive hugger. We have gotten to know each other very well over the recent year or so. Turns out we had classes together s far back as 8th grade. We used to hang out at Kennedy Park at the same time - her kicking the boy's butts in race cars and me climbing on the blue jet pretending I was Jet Jackson or playing baseball. Facebook has been very very good to me.

What a long strange trip it has been.

We most assuredly did not ride the Cannonball Express. Nope - Jim and I spent about 70 hours on a series of Amtrak trains to journey from North Carolina to Sacramento. We met many friendly, wonderful folks on the trip. We spent a great 5 day stint in Cleveland capped off by the Zombies Not only did Jim occupy his time pushing me around, he took a vast array of photos which he posted as WiFi became available.Do not believe it when Amtrak says they have WiFi on all of their trains. Our experience was trains with double-decker cars for sight seeing had no Wi-Fi. That was most of our on-train time.

We left Cleveland at 3:30AM Tuesday morning. We were late - something that happens regularly we now understand. What the heck - our original 5 hour layover in Chicago was only 1.5 hours. Then we started the 50 h0ur jaunt to the left coast on The California Zephyr. No WiFi but some spectacular scenery as Jim has documented for all to enjoy. As soon as I saw the familiar scenery I had to hear Mr Deutchendorf play the song I have loved from the first time I heard it -

Once we cleared the Rockies we hit Utah and the first stop was
There were several small stops along the was but we also hit Provo - home of BYU, where Lynn (my late wife) went to school and then of course Salt Lake City.

Between Cleveland and Salt Lake City we saw more Amish than I had seen in my entire life. We asked of there was a conference or something and were very politely told no. They were quite friendly and open to questions about their lifestyle. But tight-lipped about why they were on the move LOL.

We hit Salt Lake City around midnight.Oh boy - more traveling in the darkness to follow but hey - as far as we were concerned we were entering the home stretch. And the first thing that popped into my head when we crossed into California was this

The two places I have  always considered home are Colorado (ages 1-9_ and California for 30+ years. This trip meant I was coming home.

As we were sitting at the Reno station watching passengers depart and new ones join the journey, Jim asked how long it normally takes to get from Reno to Sacramento. I guessed a couple of hours and Jim laughed. Amtrak makes it a 6 hour jaunt. Guess they are very proud of the scenery - LOL. Yep - it did indeed take 6 hours. But we rolled into Amtrak Sacramento and were  met by Dave Hitchcock, who promptly ensconced us in the Quality Inn and then took us out to dinner.

There will be one additional blog tomorrow. It will be the 

Time to go help with the setup. Happy trails everyone,

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Long Live Rock and Roll

Well folks it definitely turned out in our favor to have waited until yesterday to visit the R&RHOF. This is from their induction ceremony - we were quite a bit rowdier but it gives you a taste of the Zombies - a great show and it is not clear who enjoyed themselves more - the band, or we rowdier onlookers. I'll call it a draw. Again I ask - will today's music sound as good in 50 years? Colin Blunstone is amazing.

No disasters to report. The Travel Gods were kind to us yesterday.  I hope they favor us again today as it is repack and relax day. We need to be at the train station today - well - tomorrow by 2A for the final two legs of the road trip. The last one is a 20 hour plus jaunt through the Rockies and the Sierras that ends in Sacramento.

Rest assured if anything fun or embarrassing happens your intrepid reporters will be there to capture it and report back to you.  They don't call us the Slipstream Media for nothing, you know.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Gimp in a Strange Land aka What's Life Without a few Speedbumps Anyway??

Happy Friday y'all. Today began with a sleepless night and a great breakfast at the hotel  cafe. We decided tomorrow is to be our Rock and Roll HOF day. Surely Jann Wenner will be waiting with bated breath to see us. Ahem. At any rate we decided to  stick around again - Jim needs a Walgreens to refill his prescriptions and I need  a few things that missed my bags - toothbrush, hair brush, and also need to repair my crutches so..........

Back on the streets, Jim, the Gimp (aka Chuck) and our trusty steed the wheelchair. Clickity clack, rumble, thump BAM! oops - something brings us to a halt - a halt that almost sends the Gimp flying off the front end of our steed Nellybelle and startles Jim, the pilot and power. GRRRRR. We gather ourselves and off we go again. Hark - a CVS comes into view and the Gimp is happy as his needs can be met - Jim not so much as he needs the Walgreens. We wander the aisles and load up on Gimpy necessities and head back out to the street. The pilot and power - Jim - decides it is a nice day to sight see and maybe spot Walgreens so we head off in a new direction. BAM - another steed blocker rattles the Gimps teeth and startles Jim. Someone muttered damn but maybe it was just an on looker.  Hey - there is beautiful waterfront property near if anyone is interested. Ahem.

We reach another corner and BAM - grind. The left front wheel is in some distress. Not particularly surprising as even with the weight loss from all the hair Bobby C claimed the Gimp is a large fellow with several Xs in front of the L on his frame. But the Gimp can be clever and figures how to keep the wheel from being an issue so we trek back to the hotel. Success  seems within our reach. We stop for a break as the power part of Jim needs a break. After a 20 minute or so conversation we head to the elevator and a louder BAM ensues. Damn. (The Gimp fesses up this time and pleads guilty).

FUBAR time - effed up beyond all recognition. The left front wheel has  been Bammed to death. Literally. So here we are in the Cleveland equivalent of the Tijuana Jail - or so it seems. I am stuck with a crippled steed and left to guard the elevator - I mean I am stuck while Jim goes looking for the equivalent of AAA roadside service. He eventually returns with a hotel employee and a replacement steed but this steed is a mere pony. My new little pony. I manage to pop up and out of Nellybelle and wedge myself into the nameless pony but the wedging is is way too tight. We head back to the ranch that is room 239 to ponder what to do.  Having been joined by a suit and tie management type - very concerned and apologetic I might add - the Gimp finally comes up with an acceptable way to get off my damn little pony and into the more suitable new steed offered. I won't bore you with the engineering feat that freed the Gimp and elicited smiles and high fives all around but trust me when I say it was most creative. And now a very relieved suit and hotel employee retire to parts unknown, I suspect to celebrate being freed from a problem the had no idea how to handle. Great story to pass amongst the hotel employees for at least a week, I am sure.

Alas all is well that ends well. Jim is taking a nap while I write this and watch this weeks Yellowstone. Clearly the Duttons of Montana have larger problems than getting out of a much too small wheelchair LOL.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Cleveland and the road so far

We are at- the Hyatt Regency Cleveland after about 30 hours on a train. Most of the ride was in darkness and the route from Carolina was rough and bumpy. I must sat - the AMTRAK people are exceptionally friendly and accommodating. We had a good lunch at the DC AMTRAK station. After a 4 hour wait we boarded the train (Capitol Express No 29) and hit our first real snafu.

Apparently gimps like me - who cannot climb the narrow, windy stairs to the second floor must have lower level specified on their reservation. Oops - my bad. The conductor had a hissy fit and gave me a number to call to try and get things corrected or I had to go upstairs. Not possible so I called the number he offered, The good news is an agent happily made the change to the ticket while the trip was in progress. However, the bad news was the next 2 legs of the trip had no room in the lower level unless there were some  cancellations. Sigh. Why would anyone willingly choose lower level over observation deck when the rockies and sierras are the view?

Yesterday was the second try at modifying our reservations. No luck so on to plan B. There is a second train (the 449 - we were on the 29) that could accommodate us one day later than originally planned so we made the change. There was also a seat on the 5 train - aka California Zephyr so I am safely covered - and it turns out the seat is actually the same physical location we have occupied so far so although Jim does not have an official lower level seat we may catch a break. Whew, We just get to Sacramento a day later.

Jim has peppered Facebook with photos of our day in Cleveland yesterday. We ate lunch at a place called The Chocolate Bar and our waiter was a young guy named Steve, We had a great time as Steve is a huge fan of 60s and 70s music and we laughed and talked through lunch - great food and conversation. Steve also recommended the barber I visited (again well documented by Jim on Facebook with photos.

Today is a new day - the adventure continues.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Final Trip Prep

Monday is the big day - a 1:46 AM departure from Charlotte via AMTRAK- first stop DC and then a 5 hour wait for the next leg, DC to Cleveland. Train schedules are no where near as convenient as airline schedules. I hope the train ride makes up for the scheduling issues.

Cleveland has a multi-day layover for planned visits to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and possibly the Pro Football HOF in Canton. 

Time to get packed. AMTRAK has fairly restrictive luggage size restrictions for carry ons - I have a 24" duffel bag to fill along with my laptop case. AMTRAK advertises luggage service just like the airlines for checking luggage - I always had good luck on airlines. Time to check out the train. 

I have lots to pack, fortunately this reunion is not a dressy one - at least for me. Just jeans and khakis and my collection of long sleeve pullovers. We PSORIASIS sufferers usually wear long sleeve shirts regardless of the season. As it turns out my elbows are clear at the moment, my legs not so much LOL. Oh well. Life's a bitch some times LOL.

I figure the packing will take ma about an hour - I will recruit my grandson to help. He will be pestering me about leaving my laptop so he can watch his TV shows - tough noogies Bubba. It travels with me. He is also coming up on school start time - that means he has to go to bed early and get used to getting up early to catch his 7AM  bus to school. He is a night owl like his mom.

OK - I messaged my grand daughter and reminded her that Monday night she is taking me to the train station. I board in Charlotte, Jim Furr - my old high school classmate and travel companion boards at Greensboro - the first stop after Charlotte. We get in to DC about 9:30 and then wait 5 hours to board the next train. We arrive in Cleveland at 2:30 AM or so. I'm hoping we can sleep on the train. Bad news - we cannot check in to the  Hyatt in Cleveland til 3:00PM -  looks like we get to sit  in the lobby and relax. A lot.  We leave Cleveland on the 18th.

That's it for final prep - will let you know how the train ride is going once we get started. Happy trails,

Friday, August 2, 2019


Wellbeing - well-being -however you spell it is a generic term related to being happy. Merriam Webster defines it as the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous. It is closely related to several similar topics we have discussed lately like contented, gratitude and the like.

If it feels good, do it is a phrase we hear often and those things tend to feed ones  well-being. There is also a group dynamic for well-being  but frankly it is all a bit new agey for my liking and does not bear further discussion. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for Ramana's take on the subject.

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