Recipe To Create a Family Legacy

INGREDIENTS:  An ounce of adventure

A pinch of determination

An ability to withstand extreme temperatures

A desire to be part of something bigger than self

A mixture of stamina and endurance to wait,..and wait some more

an immunity to early morning hours…

4 Family members

30 years

1. Spend Thanksgivings as a child, watching The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.

2. Upon college graduation, accept a teaching job and relocate from rural upstate New York to The hustle and bustle of The Big Apple.

3. Before there were cell phones and internet, discover that in order to be a marcher in The iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one needs to be a Macy’s Employee.

4. Apply for seasonal job at Macy’s in order to be permitted to march in their parade.

5. Remain a part time macy’s employee and include future Mother in law, (a native New Yorker) as a marcher as well.


Linda Halsted with Mom in law to be, Maxine Winokur 1987

6. Nine years later, join extended family and three year old daughter along central park (before it was lined with exclusive bleacher seating) to watch parade.


7. 2002, celebrate Thanksgiving at home with Grandparents watching the televised parade from the warmth of home.  Shriek with delight to watch broadway actress sister in law perform at Herald Square  with the cast of Hairspray.

Marissa Jaret Winokur

8. Fifteen years later, watch grown college daughter accompany actress aunt perform parade commentary during the parade.


Marissa Jaret Winokur


9. Send clarinet playing son to West Virginia University to study and play in the renowned college marching band

Recieve a phone call nearly two years ago, our unexciteable college freshman calls and jubilantly declares that he has just learned that his college band has been selected to perform in the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

10. Take 10:45 M train from grown daughter’s apartment Ridgewood Queens to Herald Square

11. Sip coffee and pass time in nearby McDonalds

12. Get turned down when ask NYC police officers at the barricade if you can get any closer to watch the 3 am full uniform rehearsal.
13. Cheer the son and surrounding marching band at 3:15 am as they pass by the police barricade on their way to the the tour buses that are taking them to a 5 am breakfast.





14. Take subway uptown to Museum of Natural History.

15. Suck in breath in awe as ascend street level to discover that you have reach parade balloon nirvana.

16. Navigate the maze of police barricades that  prevent you from accessing prime parade viewing  locations along central park.
17.  4:30 am Pull an All – Nighter in an effort to be as close to the beginning of the parade,


resign self to position self in front of lamp post, which will not only provide a firm barrier from imposing crowding, but will provide a leaning apparatus for onset of fatigue.

18.  Eat cold pop tarts

19. Cheer loudly when The marching band arrives and assumes position at the very beginning of the parade at 7 am


20. Watch enviously as the bleachers across street lining the length of Central park begin to fill with spectators.
21.  Receive yellow balloon from a parade clown on roller blades.

22. Send message to clarinet son in the third row fourth one in via clown on roller blades.

23. Check time…

24. Listen to deafening rumble of the police motorcade and the equally jubilant cheers of the spectators as the signal for the parade to begin is given.
25. Euphorically, sigh that it has come full circle.  A fourth member of family has participated in an iconic Americana event.  Memories have been made and captured on electronic devices and will be shared on social media and likes and emojis will accumulate.

26. On the way to meet up with college boy; post parade, stop and grab a bite to eat at Waffle & Dinges.

27. Capture photo of college marcher with his sister before he heads off to explore the city with his band comrades.


28. Watch, and rewatch you tube videos of the parade.
29. Post a blog about the the event coming full circle.


Roaming around Rome

After saying Arriverdeci to Gaeta, Rob and Linda arrived at The Marriott outside of Rome.
The Balcony view of St. Peter’s Vatican was surreal.


For 3 euros, and a 20 minute hotel shuttle bus ride, Rob and Linda found themselves outside the perimeter of the Vatican City.


The shops along were lined with several air conditioned souvenir shops with the predictable ticky – tacky – knicky – knacky  tchatkeys, like thimbles, key chains, salt and pepper shakers, t-shirts, etc…of iconic Italian landmarks.




As they made their way across the bridge, in search of The Collesium, they were intised by the attractiveness of the narrow, European cobblestoned side streets.


So they indulged their wanderlust and Linda in particular was fascinated by the genuine authentic-ness of the artisan smattering of shops that were tucked intermittently  among charming, yet historically rich architecture.


They discovered authentic leather craftsman by going off the beaten path.





Not surprisingly, for Linda this experienced actually surpassed the iconic landmarks like the Collesium


and Trevi Fountain.



The next day…in search of maintaining their authentic, Italian experience, Linda and Rob were pleasantly surprised when they walked from the Marriot to Taverna Sacchetti


It was highly recommended on reviews.  When they arrived at 6pm, at first it looked like it was closed, however, the door was open.  They were the only ones there. There was no sign of anyone.
Their voice seemed to echoed when they queried “Bon Giornio”.  Seconds later, an adult man wearing a pepsi t-shirt, entered quickly and gestured for them to sit anywhere.  He was dressed in denim shorts.  He abruptly to take their order.  Meanwhile, another family of four also entered the ristorante and he also took their order, sans paper and pencil.  To their surprise and delight, this man is not only the waiter, but was apparently the cook as he could be seen him filling pots of water to cook spaghetti.  It got  even better, when he began to crank sheets of pasta through a pasta maker for Linda’s fetticini.

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Without a doubt – this couldn’t be a more authentic Italian dining experience.


Bon Giorno

As a mariner, Rob has traveled extensively world wide.  Although  it has been 26 years since Linda has needed a passport for international travel,  this is the first time for Linda to visit Italy.

Rob and a team of afloat trainers from MSC were scheduled work days on USS Mount Whitney



While the men were conducting ship inspections, Linda joined the other spouses that had accompanied their husbands to the seaside port of Gaeta, Italy in daily exploration and sightseeing.

HOWEVER: Rob and Linda experienced a setback when three hours into their six hour  flight that was taking them to Germany, where they would catch a connecting flight to Naples, their plane was forced to return to Newark due to navigational failures.   Although everyone was grateful for a safe landing, fatigue and disappointed made it a difficult start of this adventure


However, after a night in Newark,  they were once again were on their way.

When they finally arrived at the charming family run establishment known as The Rock Garden Hotel, , they were pleased to welcome Rob’s sister and niece who traveled several hours by train from Milan, to spend the first few days with them.


After a typical breakfast consisting of rich Italian pastries and cappuccino, Rob and his colleagues would walk to the ship.

Since Gaeta is a seaside vacation destination for Italian families, Linda and her sister-in-law and niece joined the throng of pedestrians schlepping to the sandy, crescent shaped beach, and rented a beach umbrella and two beach lounges for 15 euros.



The Mediterranean Sea, was refreshingly clear and and free of seaweed and jellyfish.


The calm gentle waves made body surfing pleasurable and relaxing.

It is not hard to explore an old European city and not be able to visit historic Sanctuary of Montagna Spaccata.

An early morning hike up split mountain did not disappoint, aside from the sweeping panoramic vista views, there is a sacred historic treasure worth the effort.






The walk between the split mountain ultimately leads to a tranquil view of the Mediterranean






Finding The Sweet & Home in Alabama

As the retirement  clock continues to count down, we continue to take advantage of every opportunity travel.   So, when work calls the husband to Alabama,  the wife gladly comes along.  After a lunch visit with cousins in NC, we reached a half way point in South Carolina.   

We took advantage by visiting our recently relocated friends outside of Atlanta.  

When we arrived in Mobile, we discovered we were admist several thousand educators who were in town for the annual Mega Educators Conference. 

Part of the fun of traveling is discovering memorable eating experience.  Mobile provided a few of these experiences. 

Since we failed to make a reservation, our first attempt to eat at Kitchen on George gave us a single choice of dining at the bar. Instead we made reservations to return the following night.  

Thus, we headed over to grab some local BarBQ, at Saucey’s.  Sadly, were dumbfounded, to find it was closed and locked for the evening at 7pm.

The following evening,  we arrived  at Kitchen on George as planned.

Aside from the hipster allure of being a ‘farm-to-table’ restaurant, it’s charm begins by being set in an traditionally, southern neighborhood of Oakleigh Gardens Historic District.  

The menu had several delectable sounding choices.   Rob and I agreed to start by sharing a salad.

The Alabama goat cheese was smooth and complimented the slivered pears and pecans garnishing the greens.  

After warm bread dipped in plated olive oil, our server promptly brought our meals.

Rob ordered the pontchartrain special; red drum filet on a bed of jumbaliah accompanied by shrimp in cream sauce. The red drum was fresh and clean.  The spicey zing of the jumbalyah was cooled by the creamy shrimp sauce.

Although the stuffed zucchini sounded tempting, Linda ordered the only seafood she will eat- Salmon. 

It was not too dry, tender and mouth watering.  The roasted marinated asparagus had been artisianly sliced lengthwise.  The augratin turnip was a novel side dish.

Origanally we planned to forgo desert.  Our bellies were full and our pallets, content.  However,we reconsidered after learning the desert menu choices.  We declined the regional favorite of key lime and opted to share a genetous serving of creme brule.

A wise choice; it was light, velvety smooth with a sweet crunch of the carmelized topping. The creamy flavor lingered well after we payed the check and finished the evening walking around the neighborhood,  admiring the lavish southern porches and the spanish moss festooned trees.

South Rim


We arrived at the South Rim late afternoon.

Our first stop was the watchtower.—Indian-Watchtower.htm




View from Watchtower



We climbed the interior circular steps.

Before turning into bed, we tried out hand at night photography.  We are pretty pleased with the results Rob was able to get with his LG G4 cell phone.


Grand Canyon @ Night



DAY 2: We rose, with a handful of other guest, who braved the chilly subfreezing temps to watch the sun rise.



Afterwards we warmed up with breakfast inside the lodge where we continued to watch the canyons views.  You can read about that here;

We had been wisely, advised to not give up our parking spot, as parking is at a minimum and we would likely have difficulty finding another parking spot.  Having already spent nearly 2,000 miles driving, we were all to glad to not have to step back into The ‘Silver Streak’.  There are shuttle busses, but we found plenty to entertain and amuse ourselves on foot,all within a 2 mile walk of El Tovar.

After breakfast , our first stop was to visit the Hopi House.



Hopi Center



Our morning rim – side hike took us along the  Bright Angel Rim – side Trail.

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El Tovar (peak) &  Kolb Studio (foreground)

You can read about our guest experience at El Tovar here;



Mary Colter”s Building – Lookout Studio

After stopping in the Verkamp’s Visitor Center

we nibbled granola bars and trail mix prior to our afternoon hike to the

Yavapai Geology Museum


“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”

-John Piper




“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”

― Ansel Adams

We boarded a shuttle bus at the Visitor Center back to El Tovar, in time to enjoy a stunning evening sunset.


Sunset @ the South Rim

“The glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.”
― John Wesley Powell


Painted Desert- Petrified Forest


The expansive pink hues of the panorama of The Painted Desert is truly a sight that leaves an indelible impression.


Painted Desert Inn

Painted Desert Inn

The Painted Desert Inn,  closed to patrons in 1963.  It reopened to the public as a historic museum in 2006.  It now holds displays about Route 66 and the Civilian Conservation Corps and shows Kabotie’s restored murals.




The Petrified Forest,, adjacent local to The Painted Desert,  made it possible to visit two national parks on the same day.





Cadillac Ranch

We were making good time, when Rob queries aloud, “Why do you think all those cars are lined up on the other side of that service road?”  We both lean to get a closer look and simultaneously shriek, “Cadillac Ranch! as we zoomed past.

The line of spray painted , half burried cars, set a ways back from the road, so had it not been for the line up of cars along the road side, we might near have missed it.


We immediately took the very next exit, to back track.  You can’t come this close to the infamous novelty and not take the time to stop


We only left our foot prints & took only pictures, however, if you are ever in the vicinity of this iconic piece of Americana, bring along a can of spray paint and leave your legacy in Amarillo,Texas.

El Tovar

20160317_101127.jpgThere are times to scrimp and there are times to spend.  For a full National Park experience, a night at

We had traveled like misers; including, couch surfing with friends to packing picnic lunches to avoid eating out for the days leading up to our arrival at The Grand Canyon, knowing full well that that this is where we would be emptying our pockets.  And the sacrifice was worth it.


The interior of the lodge was a cozy, dark stained, thick hunting lodge theme with mounted buffalo head above the entrance to greet arriving guest.


We had a birds eye view of the canyon from our room.


There are multiple, grand porches, decked in rockers beckoning visitors to relax and watch the sun rise and or set above the canyon.



Getting our kicks

                            on route 66.



OK. so technically we made better time driving parallel on route 40, but we had this strange sensation that we were in a Disney animated film, Cars.  Occasionally, we found ourselves driving a stretch of the historic highway, like when we stopped to fuel up is how we found this little restored gem in Shamrock Texas.

Although you can’t actually fuel up here, you can get  friendly tourist info.


We have an explainable urge to watch Cars. The teepee motel does indeed exist.



Regardless whether we were driving along historic route 66 or parallel on route 40, there are parts that are indeed nostalgic.  However; sadly, there are also many, many parts of the route that are run down and deserted like a ghost town.  #thestruggleisreal