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March 29, 2009


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It was nice of you to mention "England" Dan Seals, one half of England Dan and John Ford Coley (and brother of Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts). He passed away this past Wednesday, so I hoped you worked a little "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" into the iPod shuffle.

By the way, regarding your distaste for "grounds" in the names of coffee shops -- you know I have a personal rule not to eat in any establishment whose name is a pun, so I will support what ever legislation you eventually drop in the hopper.

Great pic of the beagles! If it's not giving up too many trade secrets, you should describe your (Joan's) tricks for posing the dogs. Witnessing the behind-the-scenes routine was fascinating to me, especially after having tried to pose them myself with results reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy. Photos available on request. ;-)

Hey, Jim and Joan,
I took that route in January on my way to Tucson. Got a flat tire near Sonora and thankfully found a garage who could help fix it there. Then it was on to glorious Fort Stockton for the night in the hotel opposite yours (can't remember the name). Anyway, check out the truck stop...they lost their liquor license while I was in town, so no beer that night. But what an interesting place for an Irishman to find himself!

Two things: You must be a youngster. I remember 80 mph back before the mid-1970s! We had it here in Michigan and it was common everywhere. It seems to me back in the day that there was at least one area of the west that had no speed limit. Whew!

Also: Curious to find out what other cemeteries hang the flag at half-mast in perpetuity, I did a web search. No luck. My parents are buried in Ft. Custer National Cemetery, and I thought for sure there was one there, but no indication of that. Some German POWs are buried there, killed in a train/truck accident. I was thinking the big flag past the avenue of flags hung at half-mast, but don't know for sure.

Tammy Kennon asks:
"If it's not giving up too many trade secrets, you should describe your (Joan's) tricks for posing the dogs."

The secret is Joan carefully frames the image by dangling a couple of pork back ribs slathered in beer-based sauce.

What you don't see: Jim on the other side of the camera in the exact same pose as the beagles.

An example of the ginormousness of Texas: I once drove from Denver to Corpus Christi, and somewhere between Amarillo and Lubbock I spotted a thunderstorm waaaaay out on the horizon, backlit by the setting sun. I didn't catch it until about eight hours later, just outside of San Antonio.

I will now spend the rest of my weekend trying to get used to the idea of Jim bumpin' RJD2.

For the Rush fans out there... I just heard that they are in the new movie, "I Love You, Man."

Says the NYT "...the band Rush, which, between this and its appearance last year on “The Colbert Report,” is definitely riding a pop cultural wave."

Full review is here: http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/movies/20love.html?ref=movies

Larry McMurtry's "Roads : Driving America's Great Highways" has great descriptions of driving out west and I highly recommend it:

From Amazon: You couldn't find a blunter or more accurate title for Larry McMurtry's third work of nonfiction. Roads is indeed an automotive odyssey, in which the author traverses America on one highway after another. As such, the book has a long and honorable pedigree, stretching back to Tocqueville by way of Kerouac, and many readers will compare it to William Least Heat-Moon's bucolic ramble, Blue Highways. That, however, would be a mistake. The last thing McMurtry has in mind is a leisurely tour of small-town America--he's interested in the interstates themselves, "the great roads, the major migration routes that carry Americans long distances quickly." No wonder the speedometer seldom dips below 65 mph throughout the entire narrative. McMurtry is a man on the move, and even his meditative moments fly by in the linguistic equivalent of fourth gear.

By my lights, the west officially begins on I-40 (which parallels legendary U.S. 66) three miles west of El Reno, Oklahoma, which is north of your present route.

When I-40 was first opened across Tennessee, it also had an 80 mph speed limit between Memphis and Nashville (one of the four most boring drives in America), but that was pulled down when the 55 mph national limit went it, and when it was eliminated, Tennessee went to a max of 70.

Love the pictures Joan.

that would be went in, not went it.
Read first, then post.

When we were in Montana (in 1995) there was no speed limit during the day (as long as it was "reasonable and prudent"). Sadly, they changed that rule in 1999. I imagine there are stretches in Montana which resemble that of west Texas ... not much to see and few cars.

Can hardly wait to hear about your trip(s) through Tucson and Santa Fe, both of which I adore. If you can't find a 5 star meal in the latter, then you must not be eating ;-)

We look forward to your daily reports as you make your way west. We fondly remember our visit to San Antonio and its River Walk, but there was no parade for us. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and descriptions of your journey. Sorry our "grand-dog" Kobi bit Fred's ear back in Atlanta. He seemed very contrite when we saw him last week.


Aunt Fran Uncle David

Hey Doug Fever, hope you are well.

"Are you happy in your work today?"

One of the great lines ever delivered by a boss.


So sorry I missed y'all! I relocated to Austin (Round Rock, actually) in '06. Jim H sent me mail to let me know you were passing through, but I didn't see it until last night. If you come back this way, let me know!

What the hell is happening? First this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/13/AR2009031301235.html and now the Metro section runs a photo of two beagles wearing bunny ears posed beneath the cherry blossoms in today's print edition of the Post.

You should have a Fred and Hank Marks America T-shirt. They are precious.

I was in San Antonio last summer. I was 6.5 months pregnant, and having that strange pregnant woman sense of smell, couldn't help but notice the whole place smelled like urine. We stayed in a very nice hotel on the Riverwalk and participated in an early am philanthropy walk around the city. I ate a perfectly enjoyable lunch at one of those colored umbrella tables. But the whole time it smelled like pee. Maybe it was the heat of the summer on the river. Just wondered if you notcied this (or maybe you could ask Hank or Fred for me) when you visited.

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