Dr. Seuss’ THE LORAX

Dr. Seuss’ THE LORAX

Dr. Seuss books are synonymous with childhood.  In fact, the idea of any child growing up without Dr. Seuss is nearly unimaginable.  Nowadays, movie studios are always on the lookout for the next big box office hit and what better place is there to go than children’s books?  They have a built in audience in the kids of today, as well as the parents, who grew up with these stories and passed them along to their kids.

There have been many attempts to convert children’s books into full-length movies with few successes and many failures.  Dr. Seuss books are not immune to being box office duds.  Just look at The Cat In The Hat with Mike Meyers…funny actor, great book, bad movie!  In general, I believe that live-action movies made from animated stories are a bad recipe.  But when you stay true to the genre, animation from animation, there are far less compromises made, which allow for a truer telling and depiction of the story.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax, has a decidedly eco-friendly message.  It warns us about the dangers of taking things for granted, how our actions affect things and others around us, and most importantly, to respect and take care of the environment.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical as to how well the book would translate into a movie.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing was lost from its message!  In fact, I was shocked at how good The Lorax movie actually was!

Featured in the film are the voices of  Zac Effron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Ed Helms, Rob Rigggle and Danny DeVito as The Lorax, himself.

Despite my not being a fan of 3-D movies, The Lorax blew me away with its depth, vibrant colors and rich textures.  The songs were exceptionally written and performed, driving home the message of environmental consciousness throughout the entire movie, without coming off as preachy or lecturing to the audience.

The film was wildly entertaining and fun for the whole family.  The best gauge for how good the movie truly is came from the kids sitting throughout the theatre, making commentaries to one another.  The Lorax had the kids in the theatre talking to their neighbors about not only what was happening, but also about what they thought should be done, right vs. wrong, and what they were going to do if they found themselves in a similar situation.

What do you get when you put all of these elements together: a great story, a great message, wonderfully written songs, spectacular animation and effects, along with audience interaction?  The result is a movie that I highly recommend for the entire family!

It is an exceptional rarity when a children’s book makes the transition from the written page to the silver screen successfully.  The Lorax is definitely one of those exceptions.  In the world of Dr. Seuss, The Lorax is a must read!  And now, thanks to Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, Hop),  The Lorax is a must see!

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Interview w/ Sir Anthony Hopkins – Jan. 21, 2011

 Interview by Dennis Brown

THE RIGHT ROLE FOR “THE RITE

Considered one the greatest living actors, Sir Anthony Hopkins is perhaps best known for his role as Hannibal Lecter, in the film ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ for which he received the Academy Award for Best Actor. Other prominent film credits include A Bridge Too Far, The Elephant Man, The Bounty, The Remains of the Day, The Road to Wellville, Legends of the Fall, Nixon, Amistad, The Mask of Zorro, Meet Joe Black, Titus, Hannibal, Red Dragon and The World’s Fastest Indian, to name a few.

Hopkins newest film, “The Rite,” is a supernatural thriller that explores the mysteries of exorcism through the eyes of an expert and a novice. It uncovers the Devil’s reach into one of the holiest places on Earth. Although “The Rite” is related to the 1973 film The Exorcist, it is by no means a prequel, sequel, remake or in any sense a direct offspring of that film. “The Rite” is a unique film unto itself and does not rely on typical horror film tricks, such as excessive blood, guts, gore and computer generated special effects. What makes this film truly scary is the story itself, the direction, and of course, the acting.

Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Wearing his deep skepticism like armor, Michael challenges his superiors to look to psychiatry, rather than demons, in treating the possessed.

Only when he’s sent to apprentice with the unorthodox Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins)—a legendary priest who has performed thousands of exorcisms—does Michael’s armor begin to fall. As he is drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas’s skill, he begins to glimpse a phenomenon science can’t explain or control…and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.

I had a chance to sit down with Sir Anthony Hopkins this past weekend and ask him about his most recent film, and this is what he had to say:

db – When you can pick and choose any project you wish to work on, why did you choose this role?

SAH – “This role was perhaps the most interesting I’ve been involved with since ‘Silence of the Lambs.’ I play a wide range within this one movie. It stretched me as an actor. I had a wonderful time making it. I look back on the time spent on this movie with great nostalgia. It’s the best time I’ve had in a long, long time.”

db – How long did it take you to prepare for this role and how did you do it?

SAH – “About two minutes. I don’t get into character. I learn the lines and I make sure I get the text and the script.  I work very hard at memorizing my lines. Whatever is called for in a particular scene or day of filming, I’ll mark it off (that part of the script) and I go over and over and over that speech or that scene until I know it so well, that I can relax and go on to the next scene the next day. So, I work very hard, but it’s not hard work. But I just go over and over it.”

“And then I had to learn Latin and Italian, so I took the same process, I go over it, and sometimes I feel a bit crazy. Then after awhile, I think, ‘…okay, I know it.’ Then I show up on location and talk to the director, and he says ‘OK, are you ready?,’ and then we go (film the scene) and that’s it. That’s what I do.”

“It becomes real (to me), it becomes fluent. With acting the part of the priest, I learned the lines, showed up on set and then I feel free to improvise.

Before we started the movie, I was really interested in this guy, Father Lucas. He was very close to me in a way, not that I’m a priest, but he reminded me of my father. He was always rather impatient…and that’s me, very much like me. I’ve got a lot of energy. “

db – Do you believe that demons really exist?

SAH – “There’s a scene where I tell (young seminary student Michael Kovak) about my loss of faith. That, some days I don’t know if I believe in God, Santa Claus or Tinkerbell. And I say I’m a weak man, I have no power. That is what I believe in my own personal life, because I’m not an atheist. I’m not an agnostic, although I used to be when I was much younger, because I thought I was clever.”

“But time goes by, you look around, and I’ve been through crises in my own life and there is something that runs my life and it’s a power greater than myself and I call it God. It is the power of life. It’s a total mystery. Human consciousness is a mystery. So I keep an open mind about it. I don’t argue, I don’t judge anybody and that’s it. Who knows? I don’t know! When people become so obsessed with something, they can become possessed by it, whatever it is, such as depression, negative or positive thinking”

“We had a priest with us, Father Gary Thomas, who is Jesuit and performs exorcisms himself in America. I asked him if he really believes that the Devil is a physical creature? He believes It is real. It is an entity that can get into people.”

db – During filming and production, were there any instances of unexplained phenomenon or unusual precautions taken that you either witnessed or were made aware of?

SAH – “To be honest, when you’re making something like this that is so mysterious, we’d say there’s something numinous about it. Anything that is spiritual and mysterious is called numinous. Something deep and impenetrable. We had Father Gary Thomas, who served as a consultant on the film. He said there was nothing to worry about. I asked if he ever got scared and he said ‘No.’  I asked him if he knew what the Devil was and he said ‘No, but you should say a lot of prayers.’ Aside from that, I’m not aware of anything in particular one way or another.”

db – What do you think or hope that audiences will take away with them after seeing this film?

SAH – “The director and myself, both think that perhaps the best film ever made in this genre is ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ A wonderful movie with wonderful performances. It’s takes place here in New York. It’s very real and really scary.

The world is a very scary place. The director wanted to keep this film very real and I think his style of filming lent itself to that. To do otherwise would have cheapened it.

Is it the devil or is it mental disturbance? That’s the debate that’s in film and probably in the world. Because nobody knows, it gives a semblance of humanity to someone who says they don’t know.”

“The truth? Look at the trouble that got us into over the last thousand years. Hitler knew the truth. So did Stalin. So did a lot of people. They all knew the truth, and that caused such horror. Certainty is the enemy. It’s like anyone saying, ‘The debate is over.’ Who says it’s over? Human beings? We know nothing.”

 

 

 

 

 

TIS THE SEASON TO BE FURRY!

When I think of places that are kid friendly and fun for the whole family, there are a few tried and true examples that come to mind. One my family’s favorite is Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA, which is a little less than 1½ drive from NYC.

The only problem with these family fun destinations is that they’re operational abilities and availability to the public are subject to and at the whim of the weather.  Spring and summer are open season for families from hundreds of miles around to come and have a good time.  But the moment the temperatures drop, it seems like everyone shutters their doors and close up shop until the next year.

So, what are we to do when Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us and our kids are bouncing off the walls?  Some go skiing, while others go to Florida or the Caribbean.  Unfortunately, not everyone can afford these options or have the patience to execute such plans.  I, along with innumerable others, fall into this last category…those without the time, money or patience to attempt or accomplish such endeavors.

Luckily, someone has stepped in to offer a solution to this dilemma.  It is not only time and cost effective, it is also familiar and guaranteed to please even the pickiest of family members. The answer is Sesame Place!

Sesame Place recently stepped up its game by opening its doors for the holiday season, despite the cold, to offer families across the region a shining beacon of hope during this otherwise desolate landscape of family oriented destinations.

As always, Sesame Place is full of friendly faces and all of your favorite characters, rides, shopping and attractions.  But what sets it apart is the way they have incorporated the holiday theme into all these previously mentioned things that they already do so well.  Sesame Place has dubbed it “A Very Furry Christmas.”

From the moment you enter the park, the spirit, sights and sounds of the holidays surround you. A magnificent Christmas tree greets you in the center of the entryway and is the focal point of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” one of the many scheduled shows throughout the park and the day.

You can sit in on the taping of a special holiday themed “Elmo’s World,” in which Elmo explores Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza with the help of his good friends Dorothy and Mr. Noodles. Elsewhere, you can join in the fun as Abby Cadabby learns about the meaning of Christmas from all of her Sesame Place friends.

One of the highlights of the day was the holiday parade, which stretched along the entire length of Sesame Street and included every Sesame Place character along with tons of dancers, performers and wonderful music.  My family, along with every other one as far as the eye could see, thoroughly enjoyed the day and evening spent at Sesame Place.

It was a welcomed addition to the normal holiday fair available at this time of year, but most importantly, it filled an immense void in the normal offerings available and was as close to a guaranteed good time for all as you could ever hope for!

For more information about Sesame Place and their holiday offerings, visit SesamePlace.com.  I know you and your family will be glad you did!

 

Kick-ass Hummus

Kick-ass Hummus

Ingredients:

2 cans chick peas

4 jalepeños

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Instructions:

Empty one drained can of chick peas into food processor, then add 2nd can of chick peas (including water) and mix until you achieve desired consistency (this could be chunky or a fine-grit – it’s all up to you).

Next, add the minced garlic and jalepeños, mixing for about 10 seconds, give or take a few.  Then combine the remaining ingredients:  lemon juice, crushed red pepper and 1 tspn. cumin.  Mix an additional 10-15 seconds. Taste… This is the point where you play with the recipe a bit to suit your personal tastes.

I like spicy, so I had a habañero pepper and an extra clove or two of garlic. Depending on my mood, I may add some more cumin.  To finish, I always a few dashes of salt and pepper to bring out some of those other flavors a little bit more.

(Some other options you might consider are raw peppers, onions, tomatoes or whatever it is that floats your boat!  Though I wouldn’t mix the tomatoes… Rather, I’d finely dice them and then spoon mix them in at the very end of the process.)

It took me a few tries to get it right, so don’t be surprised if it takes you a little while to fine tune yours, as well. But man, oh man, when you do…you’re gonna be hummin’ about this hummus!

I got this recipe from a pilot friend of mine, Drew Bonham… Thanks Drew!

Fluffy Peanut Butter Dip

Fluffy Peanut Butter Dip

Ingredients:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

6-8 ounce vanilla yogurt

Dippers (fruit/graham crackers/pretzels)

1/2 cup CoolWhip (optional)

Instructions:

Whisk together the creamy peanut butter and vanilla yogurt (trust me!). Then dip your favorite dipping item of choice (fruit, graham crackers/pretzels/etc.).  To make it even yummier, fold Cool Whip in to the PB & yogurt… Mmmm!

Added WOW factor:  Squeeze lime juice over Granny Smith apple slices and then dip those in to take the dip to a whole new level!  8^)

For more great recipes, go to The Pampered Chef !

Niagara Falls…

Niagara Falls-21Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned…step by step..inch by inch…

For those of you who know…YOU KNOW!  And for those of you who are scratching your heads right now, wondering what the heck that first line was all about…it’s a classic bit from the old I Love Lucy television show that I will never in my life be able to forget!  Forget about all the other things I’d ever heard about Niagara Falls and why it’s been so wildly popular to so many people and for such a long time on such a consistent basis!  My #1 reason for going there (I hope my wife doesn’t read this!) is due to the above mentioned bit I’d seen a hundred times in re-runs as a kid!

Niagara Falls - 1

Vanessa, Devan & Dennis

My wife, on the other hand, believes that I wanted to go because she thought it would be a nice family vacation for us all.  Don’t get me wrong! It absolutely was and she is gifted at making good, solid choices and decisions about most everything she puts her effort into. But in my heart of hearts, Lucille Ball was the one who gets the commission on that sale!  Sorry babe… I Love Lucy!

We live just outside New York City, across the Hudson River in New Jersey.  Being relatively new to the area, we decided that driving the six hours to Niagara Falls would be a great way to familiarize ourselves with the countryside and the state of New York.  Having a 23 month old baby in tow was slightly daunting to us (as he was prone to getting car sick every time we decided to go into the city or to Long Island), so we decided to split the drive into two segments, staying at a bed and breakfast along the way.

My wife had found this little place on the internet and it sounded really quaint and nice (and affordable, too!)  So we headed out in the afternoon to explore the state and the famous falls.

Along the way, we nearly pooped our pants when we saw (and promptly turned around to stop and indulge ourselves at) a Waffle House!  Nothing says “I love you” and “loosen your pants” like Waffle House!  After we’d gotten our fill, we headed out to find the bed and breakfast.

When we finally arrived at Chryslers Bed and Breakfast, it was exactly what it sounded like (quaint and nice), but nothing like what we’d expected or hoped for.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very pleasant.  It was just that we’d imagined someplace a bit more modern.  The people who ran the place were an older couple that were as nice as could be and a bit talkative, too!  Basically, this place was these peoples home and we stayed in an old bedroom that was once inhabited by one of their now grown children.

Niagara Falls approach I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t believe there had been any work done to upgrade the room in a way to bring it in line with what one might expect to find at any motel, hotel, inn or other “pay-to-stay” type of road-side joint I’ve ever been to or heard of.  Again, let me say that it was clean and the people were very nice!  I have nothing bad to say about the experience.  I am simply stating that I had something totally different in my head prior to our arrival, hence it did not quite live-up to my preconceived perceptions…

Niagara Falls-08-Devan kicki' itNiagara Falls-18-touristsNiagara Falls-14Niagara Falls-09-trolleyNow that I’ve beat that dog nearly dead… let’s move on!

Up and out, on the road by 10am, excited to be going to Niagara Falls, a place of infamy, history and weddings!  Beautiful views along the way to go with our driving music of The Beatles-Abbey Road, Beck-Odelay!, Radiohead-OK Computer, and Bjork-Post…

We hit traffic about 20 miles out from Niagara, which only proved to heighten our anticipation. First you see the signs, then you reach the bridge over a river and onto an island before taking some bizarre round about way along who knows what until you’re finally spit out into downtown Niagara Falls.  Of course we wanted to see it first thing, but we knew our hotel was where we needed to go first.

Niagara Falls-16-hotel

Niagara Falls-13

Giacomo Hotel behind my son Devan

Niagara Falls-17-hotel

My wife had booked us at a place I would have never thought of myself, mostly because it was so nice!  I’m more of a simpleton by nature (mostly based on cost…as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve labeled myself “El Cheapo”) and am a basic hotel kind of a guy.  The place she had us staying at is called The Giacomo.  It is a premier luxury boutique hotel and worth every penny!  The service is awesome! The decor is unique, daring, vibrant and elegant wrapped into one.  There is a Mayan influence that can be most notably seen in the downstairs bar area.

Niagara Falls-09-aerial view

View from The Giacomo

The Giacomo is located in the United Office Building (art deco architecture-build in 1929-the tallest building in Niagara Falls) just a stones throw away from the Niagara Falls State Park and all the activities and attractions you could hope to do and see.  There was live music at night, right next door, as well as a very special laser-light show set to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, performed live by an accomplished group of musicians, including orchestral components.  Way cool!

Niagara Falls-02Niagara Falls-01Niagara FAlls-03-Maid of the MistNiagara Falls-05The Niagara Falls State Park is well laid out and has plenty of space and opportunities to do a wide array of activities for all visitors, regardless of age or ability levels.  One of the most popular attractions at Niagara Falls is taking a ride on The Maid of the Mist.  This is a boat which visitors take to get up close and personal with the waterfall.  Everyone is given a plastic poncho to help keep their clothes from getting completely drenched, loaded onboard and taken for a tour of the American Falls and the Canadian Falls.  It is one thing to see the falls from up above, but it is quite another thing to see them from down below.  This is the one thing that is a definite must see and do for you and your family, friends or whomever!

Niagara Falls-12Niagara Falls-11Niagara Falls-10Niagara Falls-20In  a close second place, is the Cave of The Winds! Here, you can actually walk right up next to the American Falls via some walkways, stairs and viewing platforms that have been erected for the public to get close, get a real appreciation for the sheer power of the waterfalls, and potentially go deaf (YES! IT’S VERY LOUD RIGHT NEXT TO THE FALLS!).

Niagara Falls-07Amongst the numerous other thing there are to do and see while in Niagara Falls, here is a list of what I personally recommend (in no particular order): Aquarium of Niagara, Niagara Adventure Theatre, The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, Niagara Scenic Trolley, Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours and the Niagara Holiday Market.

A few other points of interest for you to consider are the Falls Wedding Chapel (this is for you adventurous types!), Whirlpool Ket Boat Tours, Seneca Niagara Casino, Hyde Park Golf Course, Niagara Arts & Cultural Center and the Niagara Science Museum.

Lots of people make the trek over the border to Canada while they’re in Niagara Falls.  I mean, why not?  You are right there, after all!  However, for some reason that I still can’t think of, we didn’t… We wanted to!  We’d planned on it!  But, for some reason, we just never made it to Canada.  No big deal!  There’s always next time.

Niagara Falls-15We decided to venture out and catch a slice of life outside of the immediate area next to the actual waterfalls (where ALL the tourists are) and have a meal, elbow to elbow, with the locals.  We found a little Italian restaurant that had big portions for reasonable prices.  Part of that, I believe, was due to the fact that the place looked and felt like it was the home to more little league pizza parties than to the casual diner, but hey, that’s part of the charm! I wish I could tell you the name of it, but to be honest, I don’t think it matters.  I think it may have been the only Italian restaurant  around… Or at least, it was the only one worth eating at. I was standing outside the restaurant when I took the picture you see here…

By the end of our little family vacation, we’d had ourselves a really nice time!  There was lots to do and in all truthfulness, it wasn’t very expensive.  No matter what your budget, you can have an excellent time in Niagara Falls!  Remember, this is your vacation, so do whatever it is that you like or want to do!  Nothing is stopping you except for yourself.  Have fun!

Moving to a new city… (Part 4)

THE FINAL CHAPTER…

Finally!  Right? So where were we…?  Oh, yeah!

DAY 1:  I set out, heading east on the 105 freeway with LAX (Los Angeles Int’l Airport) in my rearview mirror, then Los Angeles itself.  My future life was on the horizon while I had three howling cats in my ears.  Ooof!

NevadaAbout an hour and a half into the trip, a familiar odor wafted through the air and slapped me, hard, across the face.  If you guessed that one of the kitties had used the “facilities,” you’d be right.  I thanked my lucky stars that I’d been so thorough in the set up of my cats  personal areas and travel arrangements.  Their living/lounging/play space being separate from their dining area and bathroom facilities was a master stroke of genius (or was it just what anyone would have done?) that was already paying dividends.  All I needed to do was crack the window from time to time to alleviate the magnificent aroma and all was good!  Or so I thought…

Las VegasBy the time I hit Las Vegas, I was feeling good about the time I was making and decided to delay making my first stop for gas, food, bathroom and stretching my legs for a little while longer.  By the time I got to the Nevada-Arizona border, the kitty poop smell was still flaunting itself and just as strong as before, so I decided to scoop the litter box and take care of my own potty needs, as well.

UtahImage the look on my face when all I saw in the litter box was some clumped up pee!  If I smell the poop, but it isn’t in the litter box, then it must be… Aw, CRAP! The question then becomes “where exactly is it?”  The process of discovery was nothing short of fantastic!

ArizonaIt ends up that all of the hissing and howling from the the first portion of the trip was the older cats, who have serious issues with one another (who’s the ALPHA?), ended up taking out their frustrations on each other and the little guy.  Muni (pronounced Moo-knee) was so affected by the bullying that he shat himself and in the scuffling that occurred after the fact had spread the mess not only to the area he was in, but to each of the other cats, who in turn helped to spread it throughout the “kitty paradise” I thought I’d established for them.  It turns out that it was simply and plainly…HELL ON FUR! (Or is that smell on fur?)

I spent half an hour removing as much poop from their fur as possible with baby wipes. Man, that sucked!  I cleaned their area as best as I could while they were within it (not easy or fun) and then got back on the road to salvage what I could of the day and get as far as I could before settling in for the night at some random hotel where the real work would take place.

(l-r) Nudge, Muni & Shiva... The morning after the "poop" incident.

Somewhere in Utah (Richfield, I think), I stopped for the night and did my best to clean everything and everyone.  Muni, the victim of the whole dust-up, hid in the bathtub and wouldn’t come out, not even for some one-on-one cuddling… Poor little guy!

DAY 2:  In the morning, after a little food and TV, we headed out and had another fun day of driving together, but with far less troubles than the first day. Boring.  Monotonous.  Painful.  Driving.  The only thing that made the drive halfway decent, was the scenery!  I’d never been to or through half of the states I had on my route to New York/New Jersey, my son and wife and our new life together.

UtahUtah was expansive, while Colorado was breathtaking on multiple levels. There’s nothing quite like driving through the Rocky Mountains.  The sun set behind the Rocky Mountains with Denver  in my rear-view mirror and Nebraska out in front of me, as well as the dark.  I stopped in a town that’s name is too cool not to tell you.  Say it with me…Ogallala!  OGALLALA!

DAY 3:  On a side-note, I lost my camera! The last place I could remember having it was at the Nebraska border where I’d stopped to take a picture of the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign.  I realized this an hour after leaving Ogallala, then drove all the way back to search the room, interrogate the housekeeper at the hotel, and I even considered going back to the welcome sign.  But ultimately, after losing so much time and effort, I finally gave up on it and headed east… 8^(

From here on out things got pretty boring on all fronts, until the next night when I got to Chicago.  I tried to see some of the town, but got lost trying to find my way there and wound up in a place NOBODY wants to be…trust me on that!  So I escaped across the border to Indiana and found refuge in yet another non-descript hotel room.  In reality, the hotel room (each and every one of them) was more for the cats than for me.  I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for them, despite having everything they needed, including each cat having opportunities for “private-time” with me along the way.

The Rocky Mountains

DAY 4:  By this time, I was so tired of driving that I was giving serious thought to trying to make it all the way to my family without another overnight stop… I mean, I was on the verge of losing my ever-lovin’ mind from all of the “quality” time I was spending with my cats, the road, and myself!  So I tried to push as far and as fast as I could (without getting a ticket!) and in the process, I nearly completely ran out of gas near Cleveland, OH.  I was incredibly tempted to stop and visit the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, but didn’t because of the cats.  I couldn’t have left them in the car while I went and enjoyed myself…plus, it’s illegal (I think)!

Sunset over the Rockies

I made it to Pennsylvania and was beginning to feel extremely tired and road-wary.  Remember my good friend Tony that I told you about (He helped me pack up the moving truck…I’ve known him since I was 6 years old)?  Well, his family is originally from St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania.  I figured that because I’d heard so much about them and the town, that it would be a crying shame to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet these people I felt as though I already knew.  A phone call later and I had a destination…Dino’s Place.

I walked in, introduced myself as Tony’s friend from El Segundo, CA, and in an instant, Dino (Tony’s cousin) welcomed me with open arms and teated me like family.  It was more than I could have expected, yet, how I could have expected any less is completely beyond me!  I had a really nice evening and much needed relaxation time without the kitties.  The only bummer about St. Mary’s, PA and meeting Dino was that I couldn’t stay longer!

Most of my trip, as I said before, was through new territory for me, which was mostly exciting, but a little unsettling at the same time.  The people I met in St. Mary’s were really great! They were warm and friendly, hard-working and easy-going…the kind of people you try to surround yourself with no matter where you find yourself.

DAY 5:  I got up and out as early as I could muster and SPED the whole rest of the way to my family in New Jersey!  I made it through Pennsylvania and into Jersey without incident.  The last 5 miles felt like 25 miles…at least!  When I finally pulled up to the house, I thought I could hear my GPS sigh in relief before it fell off the windshield and into a heap on the floormat!

WE MADE IT!  The kitties and I were actually…home! It felt really good to be done with that drive and off the road.  The countryside was beautiful, boring, unexpected and dreadful.  It just depended on the day and state I was in.  Could I do it again?  Yeah, I think so.  Will I do it again?

I SURE HOPE NOT!