Call me chicken or call me wise, but you can also call me brave for fighting the winds and rain and fog of the Jersey Turnpike and 95 South and whatever other route I found myself on, as I fought the defroster and the endless trips through the same tunnel, trying to see road signs and exits. If it hadn’t been for the CD of presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s captivating book, Team of Rivals, I would never have retained my sanity. Or maybe that’s why I kept losing my way. Amtrak, here I come!
Someone said to me, “But, Meg, you went around the world twice….” Yes, that’s true, but I didn’t drive! If it hadn’t been for a GPS, which my daughter lent me “just in case,” and which my grandson, Thomas, got to function by the end of our visit, I’d still be circling the lovely narrow streets of Washington Northwest, crying out to the Almighty to deliver me to 95 North. And, please, someone, give me a GPS for Christmas.
Because of the rotten weather, which continued, unabated for three days, I cut my visit short and did not see my friends at the American Hiking Society board meeting. www.americanhiking.org But I did visit my eldest grandson, Thomas Bixler, a freshman at American University in the School of International Service. We slogged around the rain-sodden campus and I got to stay in a dorm—one of those new, to me, dorms where men and women are on the same floor. And I got to prove that grandmothers can navigate the halls without getting lost (after all, it wasn’t the Jersey Turnpike). We had a ball!
Just a week ago The Plainfield Symphony held its gala 90th anniversary concert with three conductors presiding: George Marriner Maull, Sabin Pautza, and our new conductor, Charles Prince. The program was stunning, including Brahms’ Hungarian Dance #6, Ravel’s Bolero, Tschaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture, M. deFallo’s The Three-Cornered Hat, Suite No. 2, Pautza’s Sinfonietta, Finale, and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eb with guest artist, Richard Alston. It was one of the most challenging concerts of my fifty years with the orchestra, and one of the most satisfying.
In the category of “how lucky can you be” is an experience a fellow musician and I had coming back from our dress rehearsal last week. Halfway home, the car in the fast lane a good distance in front of us lost control, slammed into a guard rail, spun around, and headed directly for us. My friend, Judy, reacted instantly, saving us from a catastrophic accident. She managed to keep her car out of the way so that it only hit the rear of the oncoming car, which had come to a halt in the middle of the highway. It was a shattering experience, but more so for Judy, who hit the steering wheel and also had her only car totaled. The next day the man responsible for the accident called and said, “Don’t you think your friend (who is my age exactly) is a little old to be driving long distances at night?” I tried to be calm as I retorted, “Let me remind you that it was YOU who lost control of your car and nearly killed us all.” That, my dear friends, is the kind of age discrimination that was voiced more than once. Even the police intimated as much, even though it was Judy’s quick thinking and reactions that saved us all.
Watch for my next blog, where I’ll continue my list of travel rules and a recap of my summer adventures in the great Northwest. As I told you, I’m trying to keep these entries short.