GO WEST, YOUNG MAN

“Go west, young man” is attributed to New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley. He used the verbiage in an editorial in 1865.

Actually, Greeley lifted the phrase from something a John Babasone Lane Soule wrote in 1851.

Neither actually wrote the phrase as presented here. Each had a slight variation.

History behind us, I want you to know this old man went west. I am in Birmingham, Alabama. At the home of Jean  and Joe Thornton. Jean the famous Key West Golden Girl.

Both were kind enough to invite me. Worked perfectly. The hotel had no room for me. I could not get a room anywhere else. The cone began to run over Atlanta.

Birmingham is 2 1/2 hours directly west of Atlanta.

Traffic normal Atlanta to Birmingham. Gassed up mid way. Some pumps are empty. Not because of everyone wanting to tank up. I suspect the gasoline is being shipped to parts of Florida badly needing it.

Alabama a beautiful State. Reminds me of upstate New York. Heavy green foliage. Trees. Big. Type of tree different. What I saw today were 30-50 foot high ones not with leaves. Looked like huge Xmas trees with the branch needles stretching upward.

The Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta was some hotel. Huge with all kind of niceties.

I have been in Key West too long without getting off the rock. Maybe 8-10 years. People dress differently on the mainland. Long pants and jackets for men. I have no long pants or jackets that fit any longer. My only shoes are a worn out pair of crocs. Big toe peeking out on each side.

I talk with everyone in Key West. I felt awkward in Atlanta. The big city overwhelmed me for a while. Overcame it soon.

No question, I have become a Key Wester through and through.

A receptionist at the Marriott by the name of Ella busted her ass trying to get me a room. She did get me an extra day which I passed on. I feared I would run into the Miami escapees if I waited a day longer to leave for Birmingham.

A big hotel well run. Makes our Marriott in Key West look tiny. And we have the largest dining room in Key West! Atlanta’s could not match Key West in restaurant size.

Marriott’s manager is a Sean John. Left him an e-mail complimenting Ella and sharing my thought of what a well operated facility he ran.

Cheap, too. $137, without tax. I use a Marriott credit card. Got me an upgrade to a semi-suite that was huge. The Concierge Room was outstanding. Breakfast, hors d’oerves, and drinks.

I was on the 39th floor. Could not help thinking what would I do if there were a fire. Reminded me of that movie way back with Paul Newman and William Holden. A high rise on fire and a big party on the roof.

I never left the hotel yesterday. Never got to buy long pants and shoes. Did not visit the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The driving the day before caught up with me. After lunch, fell into bed and slept 3 hours.

Kind of the Thorntons to take me in. And the many to follow tonight and tomorrow. Jean has been cooking ahead in preparation. Meat loaf tonight because it is comforting. Tomorrow, lasagna for dinner. Alabama football in the afternoon.

Joe drinks socially and smokes. I have a friend! Outside on their back porch. No smoking in Jean’s house!

Received a telephoned call from Marty Leshaw last night. He was sitting on a boat in Santa Clara, California enjoying a drink.

Marty and I were bosom buddies several years ago. Every night out on the town. Would meet first at the Chart Room. Moved on from there.

Marty semi-retired. He has a beautiful home on the intercoastal in Fort Lauderdale. Plus, a fun house on tall stilts which sits in the ocean somewhere. Marty figures Irma will take them both down.

Marty thought it was time to leave. His wife disagreed. Marty left. She stayed. She did not want to leave her son and family. The son’s home several blocks inland and she thought it would be safe.

Marty disagreed. It came down to …..I’m going…..you do what you want. She did. She stayed. Hope she and the family get through this well.

This is blog #2 today. I did a short one as I hurried this morning to get on the road.

Enjoy your day!

 

IRMA AN EXPERIENCE

Hi! I am alive and well!

An interesting trip. I write to you this morning from my room on the 39th floor of a Marriott in downtown Atlanta.

Irma scared me. Strange because I have been in Key West for years. For some I stayed, others left. Learned you can handle with no trouble up to a 2. The only bad experience was a tropical storm which sat over Key West for a week.

My home was boarded up. I was alone. Power went out. Had flashlights and candles, food, etc. Basically lived in the dark for a week. No way I could leave. The street under four feet of water. I was alone in the dark so long I even lost the capacity to fantasize.

Irma.

Left Key West tuesday at 4 in the afternoon. Figured I would get a head start. Drove till 9. Stayed over in Pompano.

Had filled the gas tank the day before. Lines long in Key West and up the Keys.

I went alone. Lisa and family opted to wait till wednesday morning to see how things looked. The tracking lines changed overnight. Enough that only some wind and rain will hit Key West. Miami became the target.

I should have waited till wednesday morning.

I was up and out of the motel in Pompano at 6 in the morning wednesday. Needed gas. Thought I was smart. Get to the station early to gas up. Beat the crowds.

No crowds at the gas stations. Went to five. No gas. Screwed! I needed gas!

Figured I would get on the Florida Turnpike and hopefully be able to get gas at a rest stop. On the way to the Turnpike, I was driving thru what I would describe as an extremely economically depressed area. Cars lined up! Gas!

A mob scene. People actually arguing who was next in line. No order. People filling up cans with gasoline.

Filled up and went for the Turnpike. I think the gas was watered or something. Maybe low grade. Sounds stupid!

Traffic bad off and on. Normal traffic. Nothing to do with Irma. Stayed on the Turnpike all the way up thru Florida. Then a route 75 in Georgia.

Traffic horrendous on occasion because of accidents. Close to Atlanta, big city traffic.

I stopped at a Turnpike rest area to gas up. Still had a half a tank. Wanted to be smart, however. The rest area had gas. The lines waiting to gas up horrendous! State police were directing cars into the pumps. From as close as 20 feet away.

I figured a wait time of an hour at least to get gas. Another screw it situation. Decided to drive further. The problem might ease itself. A 100 miles later, no problem. Drove right up to a pump.

People concerned about Irma for 3/4’s of Florida. Then, nothing.

I was falling asleep in heavy traffic in the afternoon. Stopped to eat. End of Florida. I was in Frankfort, NY. The USA 50 plus years ago. Small town people. Chatted with some. They knew little about Irma. Just that it was a hurricane that was going to hit South Florida. Concerned not.

Stopped for gas again early in Georgia. No rest areas. Had to get off 75 and drive down the road to a gas station.

Big station. Long old building. Called the Plantation. A dozen gas pumps in front.

Sort of old, the pumps. I could not figure out where to put the credit card. Went inside. Just what one would expect in countryside Georgia. A lovely lady. Sixtyish. Short and a bit on the heavy side. Pure white hair tied in a ball in the back. Metal rim round glasses. Rosy cheeks.

I told her I would like $20 worth of gas. She said to go pump it and come in and tell her how much afterwards.

Would you believe! People, gas stations trusting each other! I told her when I gave her my card afterwards how I had never had a similar experience in Florida or New York. She look at me with the expression….. Are you for real!

Plantation was a nice store. Countryish. Specialty food items. Honey and fruit cake two examples.

I am 82. I do what I want. Learn what I want. Ignore things I consider a pain.

Never used my cell phone as a travel map guide. Went to Verizon before I left and got educated.

Miracle of miracles! Fantastic! Did not even have to look at it. Just listen to the prompts. Wild!

I definitely would have gotten lost a couple of times without it. Especially when dark and six lanes of traffic each way.

Learned I need an eye examination. Seeing was difficult day and night, with and without glasses.

I did screw up, however.

Was 4 blocks from the Marriott. Could see building with Marriott sign on top. Cell phone went dead. Streets one way, round, triangular, etc. Took me a half hour to figure out how to get to the hotel. Finally stopped at a W. Doorman said take a right, another right and a third right…..You will be there! I was.

Great concierge service. A great deal for $137 a night. I forgot my room number after breakfast. Old age! Thought I was on the 37th floor. Not. 39th. Went downstairs for a new key. Like the airport. Had to go thru security to get it.

I have been to Atlanta several times in the past. The US Center for Disease is located here. My environmental cases took me here a week at a time to review records.

My game plan is to buy a pair of long pants. I only have shorts. A sweater and sweat shirt also. Cool for me outside. High today 70. Plus, I only have a pair of worn out crocs. Look terrific! No longer a big city man! Definitely from Key West!

Then, I want to go to Carter’s Presidential Museum. Passed by it just before phone went dead last night.

Another interesting experience. Men had to wait in line to pee at Florida rest areas. Just like the ladies. 20-30 people lines. Last time I had the experience was when the Carrier Dome opened in the early 1980s and I had to go at half time of a football game. Difficult to go when you have a guy sanding behind you waiting his turn.

I actually enjoyed the trip experience. However, not looking forward to the return trip.

Got to the bar at the Marriott about 11. Needed a few drinks, not food. Met two interesting people. Jennifer and Jim. No relationship. Thirtyish. In Atlanta on business. Bored them with stories for which I apologize.

Jennifer a financial wizard with Pricewaterhoue. Jim a software guru.

Technology and Louis do not go hand in hand. Age the problem. Not brought up mechanically dependent. Barbara just called and said I should use Uber to get around. My phone not set up yet. She walked me thru it. I’m like a little kid! Can’t wait to use it!

Thank you to those who wrote and invited me to share their homes. Good people all.

Enjoy your day!