Next Time You are in St. John, N.B.

You may never get to St. John, New Brunswick even once so a next time is probably even more unlikely. However, there is a restaurant in that city that definitely needs a shout-out.

bourbon

In May, we went on a birding trip to Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, but we added two extra days in St. John before our ferry ride to the island. Our hotel served breakfast but the menu didn’t really excite us. So we asked the concierge for a good restaurant within walking distance. He enthusiastically recommended The Bourbon Quarter Restaurant. It was only a few blocks away and once we got there we discovered that Bourbon Quarter was also the Magnolia Cafe. Even when you check the Bourbon Quarter website there is a link to Magnolia and the menus all take you to Magnolia. I think it may be a daytime/evening thing. In the evening the bar is hopping and live music is offered.magnoliacafe450_206

But we were there for breakfast so it was much quieter and beer was not available.The menu said they featured New Orleans favorites and Canadian classics. This included Chicken & Waffles, a Bourbon Quarter omelet with chorizo, jalapeno and onion, Breakfast sandwich with beignets, and various combinations or eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon. For me, the Pain Perdu looked intriguing. Pain Perdu means ‘lost bread’ and originally it was a way to save hard or day old bread, soaking it in milk (and sometimes egg) and frying it. However Pain Perdu in restaurants just means French Toast. I ordered it with a side of berry compote.

painperdu

This was the best Pain Perdu/French toast I have ever had. The outside was crispy/ crunchy, the inside soft and eggy. When we inquired about the crunchiness, our server told us that the chef dredges the slices in bread crumbs after soaking it in a mixture of milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla, and then deep fries the bread. Whipped cream and syrup accompanied the dish.

Curt went with the Eggs Benedict served on cornbread, choice of Hollandaise or Creole sauce and then a choice of either Crab cakes, BLT, Sausage/Apple/Cheddar or avocado/Sweet Potato. He went with crab cakes and Hollandaise.

benedictTraditional Eggs Benedict is poached eggs, ham or bacon and Hollandaise sauce, served on an English muffin. This one, served with cornbread and a variety of in-betweens under the poached eggs, was very creative and good. The dish came with home fries and Curt also got the berry compote.

We went back the next morning and had the Classic Breakfast, two eggs, choice of peppered maple bacon or sausages, home fries and toast. It may not have been as creative as other menu items but it was well-prepared and equally delicious.

So the next time I’m in St. John, New Brunswick, I think I’ll try the Buttermilk Waffles or the Eggs Benedict with Sausage, Apple and Cheddar or….

 

 

Another Turn of the Page: Mid-Summer Reading

“Come with me,’ Mom says. To the library. Books and summertime go together.”

Lisa Schroeder, I Heart You, You Haunt Me

books-reading-shelfI have always loved summer. Summer meant no school and endless time for reading. Even in high school and college when summer also meant a job it was never a real job, at least not in my mind. When I went home after work there was no homework, no studying for tomorrow’s test, no worries about shopping and cooking and cleaning and paying bills. There was just time for reading. Now that I am retired and I can read anytime I want, at any time of the year, summer still feels like a freer time. And for me, unless it is for a book group or I want to research something, I read fiction because nonfiction is just too much like required reading for class. It seems my fellow book club members felt the same this past month because everyone talked about fiction. I think that’s a first.

July1. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland (2000) 242 pages. Nancy presented Vreeland as our author this month. Vreeland specializes in historical fiction with art-related themes. In this one the ownership of a painting by the Dutch painter Vermeer is traced as it passes from one owner to another. The story is told in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most current owner, who hides the painting in his home, to the girl in the painting and her wishes to become an artist herself.

2. Rescue by Anita Shreve (2010) 288 pages. This is a story of a young EMT man who falls in love with a patient of his following an accident as a result of her drunk driving. Though they eventually marry and have a child her alcoholism forces a split and he must raise his daughter alone, only to have the mother return 18 years later. Not one of Shreve’s best efforts.

3. Lost Empire by Clive Cussler (2010) 416 pages. If you are looking for a quirky thriller it is hard to go wrong with Cussler. This one continues with the team of Sam and Remi Fargo (introduced in Spartan Gold), who on a scuba diving trip in Tanzania, discover a relic from a long-lost Confederate ship. This is the catalyst for a secret that could even bring down Mexico’s ruling party. Don’t think too much, just have fun reading.

4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (2015) 438 pages. The setting is World War II, Nazi-occupied France. The story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, and how they each respond when the Nazis invade, something they never expected. Their parallel stories portray the importance women played in wartime.

5. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (2012) 314 pages. Set postwar in Romania, this novel traces the story of Augustin, a deaf-mute, who has found his way across a war-ravaged landscape to give a message to Safta, his childhood friend since their days growing up together on her family’s estate. She was the daughter of the manor, he, the son of the cook.

6. Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (2005) 401 pages. On a stormy night, a doctor must deliver his own wife’s son, but surprisingly, there is a twin sister as well. (No ultrasounds in 1964). The doctor realizes the girl has Down’s Syndrome and to protect his wife from the grief of having a child die early (common for Down’s children then?) he gives the child to his trusted nurse and asks her to take the baby to an institution. Instead she keeps the child as her own.

7. Memory Man by David Baldacci (2015) 405 pages. A typical Baldacci thriller which is good from beginning to end. However, contrary to more popular main characters, Amos Decker is over-weight, a bad dresser, and is hardly making ends meet as a P.I. after losing his detective’s job. All of this began when his family was brutally murdered, a crime that has never been solved. Oh, and did I mention he has an unusual ability of never being able to forget anything, no matter how minute.

8. Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig (2014) 384 pages. Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, this is the first-ever prequel to Gone with the Wind. McCaig recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters.

9. A Secret and Unlawful Killing: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland by Cora Harrison (2008) 336 pages. Second in the Burren Mystery Series, set in ancient Celtic Ireland (1509) with a female judge (Brehon) who is the sleuth. The historical perspective on the Irish system of hierarchy and society before English law came into force is more interesting than the crime solving.

Fiddle-heads and Fulmars

FH_bannerDo you ever have those things in your life that seem unattainable or mysterious. Things that you’ve heard or read about and which you would truly like to see or experience but that seem impossible or simply out of reach. I have lots of them – some are birds that I think I will never see because they are too rare or too far distant – some are foods that are too exotic, expensive or elusive to ever grace my Wisconsin table – some are places that seem too distant or exotic for me to ever visit.

On a recent birding trip to New Brunswick, Canada (Grand Manan Island to be specific) I was graced by two such elusive experiences from my list.

One was the Northern Fulmar.  Fulmars are birds of the open ocean. They must come to land to nest somewhere (probably in the far, far northern reaches of the Atlantic but generally to see them you have to be lucky and somewhere out at sea.

Part of the birding trip – organized by Road Scholar – was a boat trip to look for pelagic birds. Our target, among other possibilities, was the Atlantic Puffin. Jeanne and I have seen puffins before, in Maine, but those were a colony that had taken up residence on very small island that supported a lighthouse. This time we were looking for them on the open ocean. To help us (the birders) have a chance to see some of these elusive birds they (the boat’s crew) were chumming the waters with small bits of herring. The herring attracts gulls, lots of gulls. The gulls attract other birds that might also want in on the free snacks.

Chumming with cut herring to attract seabirds

Chumming with cut herring to attract seabirds

Well, we didn’t have much luck. Someone (not me) eventually saw a puffin fly across the bow of the boat but none of the rest of us, in the rear of the boat, saw it. But suddenly, Heather drew our attention to a bird that was smaller than the dozens of gulls wheeling about the boat trying to snatch a piece of chum. Those more versed in seabirds than Jeanne or I recognized it as a Northern Fulmar. Fulmars are part of a group of birds called tube-noses. Because they spend virtually their entire life at sea, they have no access to fresh water. The tubes that sit atop their bills are part of an adaptation to excrete salt from their bodies. Apparently they sort of sneeze and a salty concentrate is expelled out of the tube.

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar

Well, Fulmars aren’t one of those pretty birds but they are pretty cool, with the salt adaptation and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to see them anywhere but out at sea. It was a lifer for Jeanne and me.

Another lifer for us were fiddle-head ferns.  Fiddle-heads are the new shoots of Ostrich (and other) ferns – spiraling curls of fresh growth that appear for a very short time in early spring.  The look like the volute ends of violins, hence the “fiddle-head” name.  I’ve read about them in many cookbooks and foodie essays but I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere.  From what I can gather, most people who eat them forage for them and keep and eat what they gather.  On our trip we encountered fiddle-heads not once, not twice, not three times, but four different times.  Woo-hoo!

Fiddle-head Ferns (original image by

Fiddle-head Ferns (original image by Tammy Strobel)


First we found them on the menu of a gastro-pub in St. John, NB, called the St. John Ale House that went by the acronym of SJAH, which I kept seeing but thought was the name of an Indian or East-Asian restaurant.  The fiddle-heads at SJAH were on the appetizer menu as a deep-fired small plate.  We ordered them.  They were good but, frankly, I wasn’t all that excited by them.  They were OK.  They might have been frozen and cooked as ordered and the breading got in the way of tasting the fiddle-heads themselves, as is often the case with deep-fried foods. But I was glad I ordered them.

Fried Fiddle-head Ferns at the St. John Ale House

Fried Fiddle-head Ferns at the St. John Ale House

The next two times, they were served steamed as a vegetable side for dinner at the Marathon Inn, where we were staying during our trip.  At the Inn, there was no menu to speak of, just a choice each morning of either seafood or non-seafood entree – everything else was prix fixe.  Well, let me tell you, fresh and freshly cooked fiddle-heads are delicious – slightly nutty, kind of like a mild asparagus.  The second time the fiddle heads were served at the Inn, my liking for them preceded me and I was offered an extra portion from a fellow diner who didn’t share my appreciation for them.  Thank you Al.

The fourth time we encountered them on our trip was back in St. John when we had a layover before our flight home.  To pass some time we went to the large City Market in the old up-town section of St. John.  The market dates from 1830 although the building only dates from 1876.  The market was a varied mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, prepared foods and arts and crafts.  And, low and behold, one of the vegetable vendors had fresh fiddle-heads for C$4.00 per pound.  A pound of fiddle-heads is a sizable bag maybe as large as a medium cantaloupe.  More fiddle-heads in one place than I had ever seen.  Unfortunately, US Customs frowns on bringing fresh produce across the border so I had to leave New Brunswick empty handed but with my head and palette satisfied that I had ticked off one more experience from my elusive list.

Like finding money in the street

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When I was a child I often had dreams of finding money in the street. Usually it was small change, nickles, dimes and quarters that I would find lying in the gutter. First a single coin or two which I would pick up, then look around to see if anyone else had noticed these unwarranted riches. Seeing no one else interested, I would look along the gutter and invariably find more coins that I would gather up. Sometimes even silver dollars. Now this dream is no doubt rife with psychological meaning. In my dream I always felt both elated at finding this money but also slightly guilty because I knew it wasn’t really mine. And why find the money in the gutter? We lived in a semi-rural area and we didn’t have gutters on our street.

Vegetable havest

Vegetable harvest

This is the season of harvest. I don’t always plant potatoes but this spring I found a bag with three types of potatoes that I had bought last fall at our local farmer’s market, and promptly forgot. I don’t have a picture of them as I found them but I’m sure you can imagine what they looked like; shriveled, spongy and with ghostly spindly roots and sprouts entangled with each other.

Being of frugal German stock, I thought why not plant them rather than toss them. They were already well sprouted and if they failed to grow I wouldn’t lose anything but if they did grow so much the better. Well, they grew – at least most of them did after a late spring frost – and vigorously too!

Yesterday I dug them. When I dig potatoes I’m taken back to my childhood dream of finding money in the street. Digging potatoes, to me, is magical. You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots. And seemingly unwarranted for the little effort on my part.

Loosening the potato vine

Loosening the potato vine

You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots

Jewels hidden below

Jewels hidden below

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

I don’t know what variety these potatoes are. The small beige one is probably Russian Banana, a fingerling type. The dark blue, almost black is of the type sometimes called All Blue. And the red is a mystery.

Dusty jewels

Dusty jewels

Washed jewels

Washed jewels

Cut jewels

Cut jewels

 

 

 

 

When cut they are quite the surprise. Creamy yellow, shocking blue/violet and rich pink inside.

 

 

 

One of the benefits of the season is a quick harvest lunch.  I am quite pleased to say that all the fresh ingredients; potatoes, onion and garlic come from my garden.

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Fry.2The three potatoes were sliced, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and fried until barely tender. Then a sliced onion and a clove of minced garlic were added and the potatoes continued frying until they and the onion brown a little and maybe get a bit crispy around the edges.  Add salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning.  Sit down and have lunch and dream of finding riches lying in the street or hidden under a potato vine.

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: The Creamery

We think we have found a gem.  A little cafe that is becoming a favorite.  A restaurant that offers a limited but interesting, even ambitious, menu.

The local restaurant I refer to is The Creamery, a breakfast/lunch only cafe, which is kind of hidden in the outskirts of De Pere, Wisconsin.

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., DePere, WI 54115

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., De Pere, WI 54115

I originally discovered it from the restaurant column in our local newspaper. It sounded interesting and since I had a doctor’s appointment one morning, very nearby, I thought I would drop in for breakfast. Inside I found about 4 -5 tables for four, a row of small tables for two in mini-booth like seating and a counter. Above the counter on the back wall was a blackboard with the special of the day and other information.insidecreamThe menu has an interesting combination of breakfast and lunch offerings but no restrictions on when you order either one. There is also a nice list of coffees and teas. I ordered a BPFT, Bread Pudding French Toast. It came with toasted hazelnut cream and organic honey.  It was very different and really good but since this was my first visit I wasn’t thinking of blogging so sorry, no picture.  But I came back with Curt for lunch twice and then twice again with friends. Finally on the 2nd visit with our friends I took pictures and here are some of the highlights. We arrived around 10:30 am so it was a brunch for us. Michael had the special called Saddle Up. They do have some cute titles for a few of their dishes like Mac Daddy Cheese and Kluckin’ Russian. However the Saddle Up wasn’t cute at all, it was quite fine.

Saddle Up

Saddle Up

Served in a cast iron frying pan, it was composed of lamb chops (choice of one or two), asparagus, an egg cooked to your choice, Oregon herb toast and a side salad of spinach, tomato and red onion. A vinaigrette dressing on the side. Michael cleaned his plate.

Barbara chose the Potato Omelet: prosciutto, Swiss, Parmesan, hash browns and whole wheat toast. It was huge, beautiful and enough for two. The hash browns were wrapped around the eggs with the cheese inside. If you want to share, this is the perfect dish or, take half home for your dinner. Barbara had to get a carry-out container.

Potato Omelet

Potato Omelet

I had the Blueberry Blintzes (filled with ricotta and topped with blueberries and blueberry syrup). Three were one too many for me (however I ate all three) and they were good but not as good as the Bread Pudding French Toast I had the first time.These would make a delightful dessert.

Blueberry Blintzes

Blueberry Blintzes

Curt has a few favorites but the restaurant rotates new items in and retires ones that maybe aren’t selling well or are very seasonal. His favorites seem to be the ones rotated out so since one of his favs was not available he went with a new choice, Pomme Frites Carne. I’ll let him tell you about it.

Pomme Frites Carne

Pomme Frites Carne

I have to admit that when my order arrived, I was a bit disappointed.  I had miss-read the menu and did not realize I would get french fries – yes, I know what pomme frites are, but I had something else in my head given that the menu description says julienned potatoes. And, frankly, the carne part looked a bit like dog’s lunch.  It’s actually chunks of bulk sausage and bacon in a “creamy gravy”.  Again, the description didn’t quite match the plate.  But, and here’s the best part,

IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS!

The fries were great.  The spinach was an unexpected but very welcome addition.  The pale looking glop of meat and gravy was actually generous chunks of savory sausage and nice sized pieces of Nueske’s bacon in a cream sauce. Based on appearance I had expected something more like the pasty Southern-style gravy usually served with sausage and biscuits but this was a much lighter and tastier true cream sauce. Yummy!

Will we return? Definitely. The owners have announced that they will be opening another location in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin which will also have dinner selections. We can’t wait.

Blood Price Paid

Ever wonder why raspberries are so expensive? Whether they are from your local grocery store or from a farmer’s market they always seem to be $5.00 a pint or $3.00 for a 1/2 pint. And that is true of red or black raspberries.

We happen to be lucky as a huge stand of black raspberry canes have taken up residence behind our barn/out building. Today we did, probably, the 4th picking of the season and brought in about 5 quarts. That has been about average for each picking. So we have eaten them fresh, made ice cream, froze a bunch and gave some away to friends.

Black raspberries, picked fresh today!

Black raspberries, picked fresh today!

Yes, these are free. Well. almost. There is a price of sorts. That is not raspberry juice on Curt’s arms in the 2nd picture below. Black raspberries, especially, have really big nasty thorns that are determined to guard those berries.

You shall not pass!!!

You shall not pass!!!

So if you don’t wear long sleeves..because it is so frigging hot, or you hate snagging your sleeves on the thorns everytime you reach for a berry, you run the risk of getting tiny rips in your skin. Raspberries are also pretty fragile so hand-picking is the only way to get them.

I'm not sure I even marked all of them.

I’m not sure I even marked all of them.

And that’s why raspberries are expensive.

Another Turn of the Page: June Books

“If you drop a book into the toilet, you can fish it out, dry it off and read that book.
But if you drop your Kindle in the toilet, you’re pretty well done.”
Stephen King

bookcase3When I was looking for a quote to start out this edition of the Whadda Ya Readin’? book group, this one by Stephen King just grabbed me. Not because it is true, not because it is sort of a denouncement of ebooks but because I “read” books in all sorts of forms and think they are all valid. I don’t worry about dropping them. I was a librarian for 30 years and for most of that time I read the paper type of book. Then along came the audiobook and I realized I didn’t have to restrict my reading to one title at a time but I could listen to one whiIe I drove back and forth to work and read a second over lunch, before bed or whenever I had the time. (note: contrary to popular perception, Librarians have very little, if any, time to read at work).

Now that I am retired I do it all. I have paper books (from the library or purchased from a book dealer), audiobooks (from the library’s CD collection or through their download service, or purchased from Audible) and ebooks, the Kindle type that can be dropped in the toilet…hmmm, how do you do that? I usually have at least two to three books going at the same time because there are, ‘so many books, so little time.’

Since I am a former librarian I get some surprised looks from people when I tell them I do not get all my books from the library. I will always support the library and I truly love a paper book but it is the reading that is the important part and I will use any format or any source to feed my addiction. Sometimes I just can’t wait for my turn on the waiting list.

Here are the June books from those in my group who are similarly addicted.

June1. Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (2012) 395 pages. Attacks by animals on humans begin escalating all over the world, and they seemed planned.

2. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen (2012) 317 pages. A severed arm, a voodoo lady, a detective on the roach patrol and a very bad monkey, just another day in the life of a book by Carl Hiaasen.

3. An Echo Through the Snow by Andrea Thalasinos (2012) 370 pages. The story of two time periods: the native Chukchi people of Siberia in 1929 intertwined with a modern story of a young girl named Rosalie in the 1990s. The center of both stories are  Siberian huskies and dogsled racing.

4. The Scapegoat by Daphne DuMaurier (1957) 384 pages. John, an English history professor on his way home from holiday in France, meets a man in a restaurant. The man, Jean de Gue, is his double but of a very different character. After too many drinks, and possibly drugs, the main character wakes up the next day with the Frenchman’s luggage and clothes. His doppelgänger has vanished, and John is being picked up by Jean’s chauffeur. Fearing he may be accused of a crime or thought mad, he takes on this new identity.

5. The Innocent by David Baldacci (2012) 422 pages. First in a series featuring Will Robie, a U.S. government sanctioned hitman. Typical Baldacci thriller. Good summer read.

6. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2014) 320 pages. When Helen Macdonald’s father dies, she finds herself inconsolable in her grief. In an effort to heal and regain a connection with her father she sets out to find and train a hawk. Not just any hawk, a Goshawk. The descriptions of the Mabel, the hawk, bring this book to life.

7. Chasing Gold: The Incredible Story of How the Nazis Stole Europe’s Bullion by George M. Tabor (2014) 500 pages. Art wasn’t the only thing the Nazis were stock-piling during WW II. A must read for anyone who enjoyed The Monuments Men.

8. The Golden Orange by Joseph Wambaugh (1990) 412 pages. This is not one of Wambaugh’s police procedurals but rather a  mystery thriller set in Newport Beach, California. Some of the dialogue may suffer from age but our reviewer enjoyed trying an author who regularly used to be a the top of the best seller list.

9. Simple Gifts: Lessons in Living from a Shaker Village by June Sprigg (1998) 240 pages. The story of one of America’s last Shaker communities–Canterbury Shaker Village, in Canterbury, New Hampshire.

Dessert Baby!

While browsing through the seemingly millions of posts on my Facebook since the day before, I happened upon a picture of a Dutch Baby. No, not an infant from the Netherlands but a really wonderful looking pastry. It reminded me of a savory dish called a sausage puff that one of the cooks in our original eating group served us.

The caption under the picture said this was essentially a sweet popover. After a little research I found a few other facts about a Dutch Baby. It was sometimes called a German Pancake, a Bismarck or a Dutch Puff, derived from the German pfannkuchen. The “Dutch” part is not so much a reference to the Netherlands but a corruption of the word for German, ‘Deutsch”, as in Pennsylvania Dutch, who were German/American immigrants.

Well we were having a friend over for dinner the next night and I thought this would make a fine dessert, even though it is usually considered a breakfast or brunch treat. The original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma Taste) served 4 but since there were only going to be three of us and this was going to be served after dinner, I felt it needed to be cut down so in my recipe the measurements in parenthesis are what I used. So here is my version of a:

Dutch Baby with Fresh Berries

5 Tbls unsalted butter (3 Tbls)
3/4 C flour (1/2 C)3 eggs (2)
3/4 C milk (1/2 C)
1 tsp vanilla (2/3 tsp)
2 Tbls sugar (4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt ( a big pinch)
Confectioner’s sugar
Assorted berries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put the butter in an ovenproof 12 inch fry pan. I used a 9 inch cast iron pan. Place in oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter. (Don’t put in too early because you don’t want to burn the butter but just get it melted and hot).

While the butter melts, combine the flour, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt. (This recipe uses a blender but I used a whisk. Just blend or whisk till all lumps are gone.)

Remove the pan from oven and CAREFULLY pour the batter into the pan. Return to oven and bake until sides are puffed and dark golden brown, 15 -20 minutes. I went the full 20 minutes plus some since it seemed the center wasn’t done. However that was just some residual butter floating around. It was done! So don’t be fooled.

Be sure to have your guests gathered in the kitchen when you take it out of the oven because it is an amazing sight but will deflate fairly quickly.

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

Done and ready to cut.

Done and ready to cut.

Williams-Sonoma would have you put a dollop of crème fraiche in the middle, sprinkle with berries and dust with confectioners sugar before you cut. I, instead, divided it into serving sections, and added the berries and sugar once it was on the plates. Tasted great, looked great. And that browned crust may look stiff but was surprisingly soft.

servedEnjoy.

A First Class Surprise

I just returned from a very fun three days in Santa Fe, New Mexico with two friends from high school. Yes, you heard that right, high school. Luther High School South in Chicago, Illinois to be exact. And once we took a minute to think about that, we realized we have been friends for 50 years.

But this post is about coming home. I love to travel and on this trip I had a wonderful time visiting a place I had never been before and seeing it with good friends was an extra treat. However all good things come to an end and one must face the trip home. I never sleep well the night before I leave so I woke up tired and on top of that this day is always made more difficult when you have to depend on the airline industry.

We live in three different cities, so of course we were flying out at different times on different airlines. And, since we had one rental car, we all had to leave for Albuquerque, from Santa Fe, at the same time. By 8:45am we were on the road. By 10:30am we had returned the car and were on the shuttle to the terminal.

At noon, I waved goodbye to Audrey who was flying to Chicago.wave

An hour later, I waved goodbye to Lynn, whose home was Golden, Colorado.

As I walked to my gate I checked my phone.  A message from Delta informed me I was going out at 3:35pm instead of my original 3pm departure. Ho, hum. More sitting, more waiting. I had to make a connection in Minneapolis to get to Green Bay but this extra 35 minutes wasn’t going to affect me much. Around 2:30pm another message from Delta command came in, my flight had now been changed to 4pm. Since my knees are not made for running, I was officially nervous so I headed for the agent at the Delta desk. He tapped a bunch of keys on the computer, told me I would be departing from D4 in Minneapolis and then said the approximate 37 minutes from concourse B to D was doable. He hoped I could make it since he didn’t see any hotel rooms left in Minneapolis. What?

I certainly wasn’t the only person who had to make a connection so on the loud-speaker he informed the masses that once we were ready to board we should do it quickly. And on the other end if you weren’t making a connection could you remain in your seat and let those that did, get out first. The first part sort of happened, the last part didn’t. And to make it even more crazy we flew into G18 not B at 7:26pm. I had 27 minutes to make my 7:53pm takeoff.

G18  to D4 in 27 min

G18 to D4 in 27 min

In the terminal I said to the agent, “D4!” He pointed in the direction of that long hall near the bottom of the map. I hustled. By the time I got to C and turned left I was whipped. A few steps down on this hall I saw my salvation, the tram. It was arriving in 36 seconds and would take me to Concourse D.

On I got, off I got, and up to gate D4 with 15 minutes to spare. The only person in view was the agent at the gate. My boarding pass scanned, down the ramp I went, into the plane and down the aisle to seat 12F …where another woman was sitting.

I can only imagine the look on my face as I thought. “Oh crap, they gave my seat away or this woman is lost or who knows…but I am so damn tired I don’t want to deal with this.” Then the woman said, ” Are you 12F?”  “Yes,” I replied as I fumbled for my boarding pass. But before I could continue she said, “No you’re not, you’re in First Class.” And she held out her ticket to me.ticket

I think I mumbled something about being tired, it being a long day and what a surprise this was. She smiled and said, “Have a cocktail.” I thanked her and turned back to the front of the plane………to the other side of the curtain.

I took her advice and had a glass of wine (no charge in first class), stretched out my legs and flew home.

The last miracle, my luggage made it too.