Nolan Travels -- Happy trails from Lewis & Betty Nolan
Nolan Travels Getaways 2002
Travel by Lewis & Betty Nolan
Cow herd, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland, March 2002
Betty with Sean Daly, glassmaker, at Dingle Crystal, LTD, March 2002
Betty beside a hippie van, California, June, 2002
Betty in Nogales, Mexico
To Nashville for Cancer Lobbying, Screenwriters
Feb, 27-28, 2002 – To Nashville
I drove to Nashville in my Ford Taurus station wagon to lobby as a volunteer on behalf of legislation backed by the American Cancer Society and to attend a regular meeting of the Tennessee Screenwriters Association. The temperature when I left Memphis was only 20 degrees and I drove through several snow flurries during the 200-plus mile drive to Middle Tennessee. The normal drive takes 3 hours or a bit less; today’s drive took 4 hours.
I came close to deciding to abandon the trip when traffic slowed to a crawl near the Natchez Trace State Park on the west side of the Tennessee River. Ice patches on Interstate 40 near and on the big bridge over the river had slowed to a creep the many big trucks carrying much of the nation’s goods across the mid-section of the country.
I arrived in Nashville about 10:30 a.m. and checked into a bargain rate Comfort Inn on the west side of town, just off White Bridge Road at I-40. I then drove into central Nashville and had lunch at the Hermitage Hotel with American Cancer Society (ACS) staff, other volunteers and invited political office holders from the Tennessee Legislature. Among those I saw were Peter Baxter, a vice president of ACS and ACS staffer/City Council Member Tujuan Stout Mitchell. Among those I visited with were Sens. Jim Kyle, Curtis Person and Roscoe Dixon, all of Shelby County, and Reps. Paul Stanley of Germantown and Tre Hargett of Memphis.
Lunch was surprisingly good, given the ACS history of serving indifferent food at gatherings. We had spicy Caribbean chicken, black beans, vegetables and a delicious pastry dessert.
I spent the afternoon in Legislative Plaza, working the offices of state senators and representatives I knew on the ACS “Lobby Day” and leaving assorted ACS literature on issues and programs. Among those I spoke with were Sen. John Ford and Rep. Carol Chumney, Ulysses Jones and Kathryn Bowers. Bowers (who a few years later was sent to prison after pleading guilty to bribery charges) was the only politician I saws who was openly hostile to anti-Cancer legislation on the ACS agenda. A smoker and recipient of substantial tobacco lobby campaign contributions, she had no room for discussion about the ACS proposal to raise the tax on cigarettes.
I also spent a few minutes talking with legislative acquaintances Dave Goetz of the Tennessee Association of Business, Paula Wade of The Commercial Appeal, Marilyn Dilahunty of Sen. Steve Cohen’s staff and the irrepressible Maxine of Speaker Pro Tempore Sen. John Wilder’s staff.
My pal John Ford (like several others in state government who later was found guilty of corruption charges and sentenced to prison) was busy when I stopped by his office. So I departed the Legislative Plaza at 4 p.m. and had an early, crummy dinner of fish sticks and chicken fingers at the Shoney’s near my motel. After eating, I drove across Nashville to the Watkins School of Design to attend a meeting of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. However, word hadn’t reached me that the meeting was called off due to the snow and ice even though the weather had cleared by the appointed time.
I returned to the motel – disgusted that I had come so far to attend a meeting that wasn’t held. I read, watched TV and went to bed early.
After the free breakfast provided by the Comfort Inn, I drove back to Memphis the next morning, a Thursday. I was glad that, in sharp contrast to the previous day, skies were blue, the road was dry and traffic was light. I stopped at the Casey Jones Village at Jackson, TN, and bought some jelly beans for Betty and our neighbors’ kids next door.
Back To Ireland's Dingle Peninsula, Part 3
March 23 - 31, 2002
(Following is Part 3 of Lewis’ 4-part travelogue about his and Betty’s week-long trip to Boston and the Southwest coast of Ireland in 2002. As with excerpts from certain other “big trips” posted on this website, double click the caption beneath any photos which do not properly load.)
Part 1: Memphis to Shannon and Dingle Peninsula via Inch
March 27, 2002, Wednesday – On Dingle Peninsula
We ate a light breakfast at the Dingle Skellig Hotel while admiring the conservatory's terrific views, then drove several miles around the Dingle Bay shoreline to Holden Leather, which is almost directly across Dingle Harbor from the hotel. As promised, Betty's handbag and my belt had been crafted overnight and were perfectly made. I had actually seen and felt the tanned cowhide that provided the quality leather for the belt. Amazing customer service.
We drove a few more miles down the peninsula to Cheann Sibeal Golf Club, where the pro very kindly allowed me to rent the club's single motorized cart (generally limited to use for maintenance and other official purposes). Betty was along to take photos and my legs were still tired from Monday's hard trekking on the links. Motorized golf carts, which are required at many of the top courses in the U.S. to speed up play and also to provide an important income stream, are rare in Ireland. This one was the first I had seen that was not privately owned by some feeble golfer. The Irish believe golf is a walking game, and walk they do - briskly. But I felt not the slightest bit of shame for wimping out and riding a "buggy cart" on this day of powerful wind. The course is not designed for cart use, so we had to take some major detours to get from tee to green.
There to meet us as promised - and on time - were my new golf buddies Gareth Anthony and David Callaghan. Evidently the canard about the Irish never being on time doesn't apply when the really important stuff is scheduled, like tee times. All of us bundled up with caps, sweaters and windbreakers to ward off the cold wind blowing in from the North Atlantic.
On such a day back home, the wind of this force would keep all but a few golfers in the clubhouse. A course with trees would probably close because of the hazard of falling limbs. It was blowing 30 miles an hour steady off the ocean - a gale force - with gusts of 40 mph and more. The wind was so strong that I sometimes found it impossible to hold a steady stance while putting or driving. It was folly to predict the optimum pace of putts into the wind or with the wind. The sunny day and the horrendous winds had dried out the greens mercilessly. But the fairway turf was the typical Ireland lush, offering bad lies very rarely. The rough was more pasture-like and not the snarly gorse that gobbles up balls at the internationally famous courses of Ballybunion and Waterville up the coast.
On one Par Four hole facing directly into the wind, I hit my Three Metal off the tee. I struck the ball solidly; on a normal day I would expect it to travel 190 or so yards in the air and then roll some extra yards. But on this day, the ball lifted off the tee into a nice, high trajectory then seemed to hit an invisible wall of wind 50-to-75 yards above the fairway. It dropped straight down, as neatly as though it had been in an elevator shaft, and stopped without roll 80 yards out.
Playing in such conditions had entertainment value. And it was great having Betty out on the course with me, a very rare occurrence since we married nearly 34 years ago. She took a lot of pictures of me and my new buddies, of the scenery and of nearby sheep with lambs. As it turned out, we only played nine holes. Gareth had to get back to the hotel and David was scheduled to play another nine at 4 p.m. with some local dignitaries.
Thanks to the cart, I could have gone on another nine. But Betty had tired of it and I didn't feel like playing by myself in such severe conditions. So I, too, packed it in at the turn. We enjoyed a light lunch in the clubhouse bar, on the second floor. We looked out through the panoramic windows to watch more determined souls finish their rounds.
A club member who had taken on the volunteer task of tending to a beautiful flower garden near the entrance told us that the Irish don't let bad weather stop them from playing golf. In fact Gareth had remarked two days previously that serious golfers routinely stop whatever they are doing and take time off from work to play on the few days that fine weather appears in this coastal area.
The garden fancier told us with delight about how on one fearsome day, with winds near hurricane strength and sheets of rain blowing sideways, one of the club's regular foursomes of seniors were playing. From the safety of the clubhouse, some visiting golfers from California's notoriously windy Pebble Beach were amazed that anybody would go out in such conditions. One asked if there was ever a day when the club's course was closed because of weather. An official pointed to nearby Mt. Brandon (nearly 4,000 feet high) and said, "when that mountain starts moving because of the wind, that's the day we won't play."
We drove to nearby Clogher Head Beach, a great place to watch the pounding of the surf. Waves were exploding into foam and spray as they hit the black rocks. It was hard to walk into the wind.
A few miles down Slea Head Drive's narrow, twisting main road was an even more narrow, twisting road that led to the Dunquin Pier overlook. The road was little more than a half-hearted, pocky pavement more suited for a pig trail. But the view of the ocean from the cliff was superb, even if Great Blasket Island was blurred by the fog.
We decided to take the inland loop of Slea Head Drive to re-visit the ruins of the 12th Century, Romanesque Kilmalkedar Church. The roofless, stone structure was built on a site where a monastery founded in the 7th century once stood.
Some erect stones resembling obelisks are decorated with well-weathered Celtic line-alphabet characters called Ogham writing that is centuries old. Some of the stones were probably grave markers. Indeed, the old church is nearly surrounded by an ancient cemetery that is still in use today. Many of the modern tombstones are in Gaelic, as are all the old ones that can still be read.
Nearby is St. Brendan's building, another stone structure that is the remains of a monastery built in medieval times. We also revisited Brandon's Creek, where St. Brendan supposedly set sail for America. The Irish believe that St. Brendan discovered America 1,500 years before Columbus. The possibility of such a voyage in a small boat was proven by some adventurers who duplicated the trip late in the 20th Century. The creek empties into a tiny, sheltered cleft that is protected from the surf. Overlooking the spot is a bronze memorial to St. Brendan's voyage and several sheep pens.
When we visited here during the summer of 1997, currachs (traditional Irish fishing boats made of tarred leather stretched over wood frames) and a few other small craft bobbed at moorings. The water is clear and as blue as we've seen in the Caribbean. It's a beautiful and magical spot, rich with history. Hundreds of Irish pilgrims climb nearby Mt. Brandon in honor of their saint (I can't explain the Brendan/Brandon spellings, or the Gaelic interchangeability of Tig/Teig and Ceann/Cheann). Some pilgrims leave bloody trails on the rocky path since they climb the mountain in their bare feet as a penance.
The customary boats should be bobbing at their moorings beneath the mountain in another couple of weeks, when the ferocity of the Spring storms eases enough for the fishermen to venture out into the Atlantic.
Here and everywhere on the Dingle Peninsula were hundreds of baby sheep, prancing and bouncing about on all four legs as though they were on Pogo Sticks. Late March is lambing season, with sheepherders timing the breeding of their flocks so that birth comes with the arrival of Spring. The lambs slept, nursed and frolicked. The adult sheep were still wearing their thick, wool coats; clipping is normally done in June and July. Bits of wool hung on barbed wire fences everywhere.
While the afternoon temperature was about 50 degrees, it felt like 35 because of the hard-biting wind and damp. Betty wore a heavy, wool sweater she had purchased earlier in the week, covered with a sky-blue, Gore-Tex raincoat. I wore a short-sleeve, cotton golf sweater-vest beneath my Footjoy, waterproof windbreaker. Keeping my head warm was a wool cap purchased on the Aran Islands years ago.
Despite our layers, we were not comfortable standing out in the wind. So we drove into Dingle on a back road, stopping briefly at the Super Value grocery store in the middle of town to buy some Dublin Dry Gin and a few other items. The store was spotless, brightly lighted and well-stocked. I picked up a copy of the Irish tabloid, "Greyhound Weekly," one of two national newspapers that cater to the Irish love of dog racing. (I didn't count the number of sheets touting the even more popular horse racing).
I thought it remarkable that there would be sufficient interest in Greyhound racing - a rapidly declining sport in the U.S. because of the growth of casino gaming - to warrant such publications aimed at a relatively small niche in a small country. The population of Ireland is about 4 million, making it roughly the size of our home state of Tennessee. It was double that before the Famine, the dark but little discussed period in the mid19th Century when the English starved more than 1 million Irish to death and ran millions more off their land.
"Greyhound Weekly" had 44 pages of racing news and advertising pitched to dog owners. Many of the ads were for stud services. Sample ad copy: "Booked out!!! 140 bitches mated in first eleven months" was the message on behalf of "Jamella Prince, another early paced wizard from Oz." I took the tabloid home and gave it to the staff of the Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option, a not-for-profit agency in West Memphis, AR that was the brief home of our pet - retired racer Dickens.
Back at the hotel late in the afternoon, we took a short nap and then repaired to the pub for a light supper. I enjoyed smoked salmon, a huge salad of strange greens and a mountain of French fries. Betty, who picked at a few fries, isn't happy with the food so far. She's not a fish lover and coastal Ireland is a fish lover's paradise. After supper we relaxed in some huge, overstuffed easy chairs in the hotel's Gallarus sitting room. The comfortable room, named after a nearby stone church more than 1,000 years old, is warmed by an ersatz coal fire. Its wood paneling and heavy furniture resembles a Hollywood version of an exclusive gentleman's club in England.
March 28, 2002, Thursday – In Dingle Town
Betty had what for her was a huge breakfast this morning, making up for not eating much supper last night. She ate Irish bacon, a croissant, a wedge of hash brown potatoes, juice and fruit. I held back, limiting myself to two pieces of Irish bacon, some dry toast, a few juicy grapes and a tiny bottle of Diet Coke. As with earlier breakfasts, the hotel's conservatory overlooking the harbor and steep slopes of the peninsula's protecting headlands made for a beautiful start of the day.
At midmorning, we drove to the middle of town to visit Dingle Crystal Ltd., where proprietor/craftsman Sean Daly cuts and sells fine glassware.
With a shaved head, single earring and gift of gab, he was a charming and persuasive businessman who allayed our fears of depending on him to ship any purchases to Memphis. Sean, who buys the pre-blown glass blanks from Waterford Crystal (where he had previously worked for 15 years), deeply cuts his own patterns into the crystal. We really liked his work, particularly his own "Celtic Flame" pattern, but were reluctant to buy anything we couldn't carry home because of a bad experience many years before with English bone china. While in London 15 years ago, on the advice of a guidebook and The New York Times, we had purchased place settings for eight of a beautiful Anysley pattern we'd not seen in the U.S.
I had paid for the expensive china plus shipping and U.S. Customs with American Express Travelers checks. The shop promised that they would ship everything to Memphis very quickly, saving us the hassle of carting it around and risking breakage. Upon returning home, we got two or three pieces in the mail within four weeks. Then nothing more. After writing several letters and making a number of expensive telephone calls to London, I learned months later that the Discount China chain had been in the U.S. equivalent of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings when they took our money. The funds ripped off from us and hundreds of other unsuspecting Americans were used to pay salaries and other operating expenses.
We ended up on a creditors list, way down in priority. It was only because my former employer, Schering-Plough, had an operation and shipping office in London that I was able to retrieve the china we had paid for. Our purchases were being held in inventory that a court had assigned to a creditor with higher priority. Even with my company's contacts, I still had to pay a premium for the shipping, but at least a sympathetic Customs agent in Memphis waived the extra duty fees when I told her my sad story. It was an enormous aggravation and we had not bought anything when traveling outside the U.S. since that we couldn't carry out of the store.
However, Sean (helped by assurances of Irish honesty made by golfer David Callaghan's charming wife, Carol, who happened to visit Dingle Crystal with David while we were there) convinced us that he could be trusted. He did this by accepting payment of nearly 300 Euros on American Express charge (which could be revoked by me for non-delivery). He packed and addressed the box while we watched and placing it in the outdoing UPS pile. He offered to let us walk it to the Irish Post Office and mail it on his behalf, but we declined in the spirit of trust for him and UPS over the Irish post.
So, despite our misgivings of a decade-and-a-half about such long-range purchases, Betty ended up buying a set of crystal cocktail glasses and a small crystal bowl to mark our upcoming 34th Wedding Anniversary; I sprung for the trip to Ireland. Sure enough, the glasses arrived in Memphis within three weeks. And I've been very pleased to verify Sean's promise that dry martinis on the rocks really do taste better when served in fine Irish crystal. Further, I was glad to recommend his work and shop to a relative headed that way in a few weeks. He also does business on the Internet and has a nice website at www.dinglecrystal.ie.
As a side benefit of the hour or so spent in Sean's shop while Betty examined the various patterns and pieces and watched Sean demonstrate his glass cutting, I used the shop's computer to access the Internet and check/send e-mail. It's mind-boggling to think of the communications advances that technology has mid-wifed in the last few years. There was a time when one could safely "drop out" of his or her world by going abroad. Now, there are no more excuses. It's so quick, easy and cheap to stay in touch that we never really can get away. Even the airports have coin-operated Internet access kiosks.
The troubling thing is that such fast access to virtually instantaneous communication hasn't made a difference in man's understanding - or forgiveness - of his fellow man. In a way, the speed simply means that a bad thought travels that much faster. And with the Internet, nothing is ever truly deleted or secure. Consequently, a bad thought has a thousand lives, and a million or more potential recipients.
Despite the spam that relentlessly pounds our e-mail boxes every day - and a lot of junk jokes and silly chain letters - the Internet makes it a lot easier for friends and family to stay in touch. We were pleased to get a message from our son, Casey, who lives in Santa Barbara, CA. He reported somewhat positive feelings about his application interview in LA with a member of Harvard Business School's selection committee (we were all thrilled a couple of weeks later to learn that Casey was admitted to the MBA program, beginning in the fall of 2002). We were also very glad to learn that Casey's employer was reaching out to help him through the transition from work to graduate school.
After Betty completed her transaction with Sean, we walked perhaps 25 yards to the Dingle Benners Hotel, probably the No. 2 lodging facility on the Peninsula. My new golfing pal, hotel resident manager Gareth Anthony, treated us to Diet Cokes in the pub. In one of those small world connections, he told us how the Benner family had sold the hotel quite cheap to a visiting American tourist 10 or so years ago. The tourist in turn got 15 or so Boston businessmen to invest in the property; most have never visited. I later found out that one of the investors is Jim Dineen, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a close friend of my first cousin Richard Lewis Nolan, a longtime Harvard professor.
The hotel is quite nice, with enormous, well-furnished and decorated rooms and a great location right in the middle of town. Rates (including breakfast) range from 58-to-102 Euros a person, double occupancy, depending on season. We checked out Room 426 (identical to 425) on the top floor and liked its view of the distant harbor and the busy Main Street below. We may well stay there during our next visit, particularly if Gareth is still managing the property. The hotel has an attractive and comfortable restaurant, which was highly recommended as one of the very best in town, as well as off-street parking and a traditional pub.
The hotel staff is young and has a decided international flavor, with manager Gareth having dual citizenship in the United Kingdom (his father was born in Wales) and South Africa. Gareth is also eligible for Irish citizenship through one of his grandmothers.
A waitress in the pub is from Santa Cruz, CA, one of my haunts early in my college career. Her name is Rhiannon, and she is a lively young woman who was named after the terrific song by Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. She is a harpist and college student working in Dingle for her fourth season.
She came to Dingle on the recommendation of a fellow musician back home and keeps coming back because of her love for traditional Irish music. I reminisced with her about the big winter surf at Steamer Lane and other notable places around Santa Cruz I enjoyed in the 1960s. I fondly remember the good times there with Pete Siller, a dear friend who joined the Marines and was killed in Vietnam.
A waiter in the pub is Jean Philipe of Western France, a charming vagabond who says he works for six months of the year then travels on the cheap for the remainder of the year. He and his girlfriend plan to go to Nepal when the season ends in Dingle in late summer. There is a similar international group among the Dingle Skellig's seasonal staff. Those we've talked to included young men and women from Spain, the Ukraine, Malaysia, England and New Zealand. All tried hard to please and they nearly always did.
A detail of Irish Army soldiers wearing body armor and carrying automatic rifles stationed themselves at full alert right outside the hotel. As we had seen before, the soldiers were guarding the movement of cash in or out of a bank across the busy street. One of them told me he had been doing this for 20 years, a duty made necessary by the fact that there are 20 terrorist groups operating in Ireland. The IRA is not a Hollywood movie theme here and certainly no laughing matter. It is just one group willing to use murder, bank robbery or other violent means to achieve political ends.
After a tasty lunch at the hotel pub (salmon for me and potato-leek soup for Betty), we poked around Dingle some more. We re-visited St. Mary's Catholic Church, where I again lighted a candle in memory/honor of my Irish ancestors, both the few who are known and the very many whose identities still elude me. A long-running frustration has been my failure to find any confirming records that my great-grandfather, John Nolan, and his older brother, Andrew Nolan, or their parents, Matthew and Honora Nolan, ever lived under those names in Ireland.
The family history passed down to me from my father, the late Lewis E. Nolan M.D., was that John and Andrew had come to America in 1843 from Ballinasloe, in County Galway. Despite my searches of records and cemeteries on three earlier trips and countless hours spent by me and my sister, Mary Nolan Ballard, looking through records compiled by the Church of Latter Day Saints, I have not been able to prove - or disprove - the family's story.
I came across a wisp of a rumor more than 15 years ago by another of John Nolan's grandsons that raised the possibility of a name change. Donavan Patrick Nolan of LaCrosse, WI, told me that he had been told by his late father (Lee Nolan) that John and Andrew had been running from the British law when they left Ireland. Regardless, any trail they left behind under the Nolan name or another name has vanished like the mist that greets most Irish mornings.
Betty and I walked around Dingle's main, commercial fishing wharf that juts out into the harbor from the central tourism area. We arrived just in time to see a big wholesale fish supply firm's truck pulling out from the wharf. The trailer was emblazoned "Nolan" with a bold graphic and
and Celtic words for markets served. Four scruffy fishermen carried their gym bags of clothing off the equally scruffy boat. Two were greeted by wives and young children. They all looked very tired, very grubby and in great need of shaves, baths, pints of Guinness and many hours of sleep. A man in his mid 30's who appeared to be the trawler's captain said in response to my question that they had caught two tons of fish in nine days, "an OK catch." On our last trip we had noted the presiding priest at St. Mary's had led the congregation in a prayer that included a plea for "a good catch" for the fishermen and a good price.
The fishermen were understandably too tired to engage in conversation with an American tourist. But I'd guess they had been fishing way offshore in the North Sea and had taken quite a pounding from the weather. The Irish fishing boats we saw at Dingle were big, blocky and rusty tubs that do not inspire much confidence. But they make the port of Dingle an important source of seafood for distribution in and throughout Ireland and other European markets for such cold water fish as salmon, haddock, whitefish and plaice.
We stopped at a lace shop a few yards from the wharf. Betty bought a lace-covered picture frame for our neighbor in Memphis who is a new Godmother. Among the items on display that we don't often see back home were beautiful Christening gowns made by hand of Irish linen.
We returned to the Dingle Skellig Hotel and napped for an hour before striking out on an early evening, two-mile walk along the harbor shoreline. We trekked out over the rocks and sheep pastures to the harbor entrance, where we got several looks at "Fungie", the famous dophin who has been entertaining the town's visitors for more than a decade.
The large male porpoise seems to prefer the company of people to that of the passing schools of his own kind, enjoying nuzzling up to snorkelers and frolicking about in the wakes of the "dolphin watch" tour boats. We also had a close look at "Hussey's Folly," a squatty, castle-like tower made of stone. It is right at the mouth of the harbor and is visible from town. But nobody we asked could tell us about it.
Later, we had an excellent dinner at the hotel. I had sesame crusted salmon, served on a mound of herbed potatoes. That was augmented with a dish of boiled potatoes, mange (green peas), cabbage and cauliflower. Betty went for monkfish served in a mango sauce. We relaxed in the hotel’s Gallarus sitting room for a good while, luxuriating in the overstuffed chairs and quiet paneling.
The room TV had a half-dozen channels, including one in Gaelic. The news and sports programming seemed to originate in Dublin or London, so at least I had "football” (the British Isles’ term for soccer) to watch. We found it interesting that greyhound races at several Irish tracks were shown on a TV highlights show in prime time. We noticed that the stadium stands looked to be full of cheering fans, unlike in America where dog racing is a dying sport due to the proliferation of casinos. We also noted that the Irish-bred dogs have shorter snouts than do their American counterparts and wear wire muzzles when racing. We both miss Dickens, our lovable and much loved greyhound.
To Old Waverly for First Round of Year
April 4, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly by myself in my Taurus station wagon for my first round of the year at the private club. The day turned into a nice one, nice but still wool sweater weather. My golf was terrible, which maybe can be explained by my lack of play during the depth of the winter. I shot 103, with no part of my game working.
I lost six balls, possibly a record for me. I was surprised to see the course in a rare, somewhat “ratty” condition, probably because of a lot of rainfall recently.
To Augusta for Masters Golf Tournament
April 7-9, 2002 – In August, GA
I left my home in Memphis at 7 a.m. so I could catch the 8:40 a.m. flight to Atlanta in plenty of time. Luckily, the airport was not busy and I had no hassle with security even though I didn’t check any baggage. I traveled light in the interest of a speedy departure from the Atlanta airport to my destination, site of what in my opinion is the world’s greatest golf tournament, the upcoming Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta, GA.
I had been lucky and had been awarded a pair of tickets to the practice rounds on opening day of the tournament. I was even luckier several years before and was given by the president of my employer - Schering-Plough HealthCare Products - a pair of tickets good for the entire event. The great golfer Jack Nicholas had donated the tickets to the company as a “thank you” for its sponsorship of television commercials aired during his Memorial Golf Tournament. My company President, David E. Collins, and my boss, Bob Raub, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, had awarded the complimentary, extremely hard-to-get tickets to the Masters to me.
For this trip, I had been careful not to pack my tiny Swiss Army knife, nail clippers or any other possible security “problems” in my carryon bags. However, I did include a flask of gin and was determined to walk away if Security insisted that I take a swig to prove that it was potable and not explosive – as I had seen them make other people do who were carrying water bottles onto the airplanes.
The Northwest Airlines plane got into Atlanta on time and by 11:30 a.m. I was in a rental Avis Chevrolet and driving out of Atlanta, eastbound for Augusta, GA.
Ironically, my son Casey had tried to call me 10 minutes after Betty and I had departed our home to warn me of his late arrival at the rental car office at the Atlanta airport. It was a shame he missed me. I later learned that Casey had flown to Atlanta from Santa Barbara (where he lived while he worked as a project engineer for his company’s construction of a missile launch facility at a nearby Air Force base) the day before and stayed with a former roommate, Mike Biggs. Casey rode a commuter train to the Atlanta airport, which was running on a limited schedule due to the weekend.
Since I missed his message, I didn’t know about the timing of his plans. Unfortunately, I missed him by only 11 minutes when he arrived at the Avis counter. Not seeing him, I assumed that he would make it to Augusta on his own and hook up with me at the Holiday Inn where I had prepaid for a reserved room (at $500 a night at tournament rates) for both of us. So I headed east in my Avis rental car while late Casey had to rent an Alamo car for his drive to Augusta since Avis was out of cars.
The drive to Augusta took 2 ½ hours on Interstate 20. Once there, the screw-ups continued. I checked into Room No. 250. Casey arrived separately and was given a key to No. 251. The mistake was discovered when a maintenance man came to my room about a non-existent “telephone problem.”
Once the room mistake was sorted out and solved, we found the Holiday Inn to be a quite nice place on the outskirts of Augusta. It was a fairly good drive into the central area of town, where the Augusta National Golf Club is located.
Casey and I enjoyed a dinner of coconut shrimp at the Holiday Inn and talked about golf, his graduate school plans and his career. We retired fairly early so we could get an early start on the next morning’s opening practice rounds.
After a leisurely, hot buffet breakfast, we drove my rental car to the Augusta National Golf Club, arriving about 9:30 a.m. The “patron’s parking lot” (“patron” is the name Augusta gives golf fans who obtain tickets to the Masters Tournament) was full even though it was early in the morning a couple of days before the actual tournament gets underway. We paid $15 to park in a pay lot across the street from the entrance to the club.
We had decided to buy some souvenirs from one of the stands near the entrance and take them to the car for storage so we wouldn’t have to carry them around the grounds during the tournament. Both Casey and I had been through the drill in 1994 when I got tickets for the week along with reimbursement of travel expenses to the Masters from our company’s president, Dave Collins, and my boss, Bob Raub. With that incredible bit of good fortune, Casey (then a student at the University of Virginia) and I were able to attend the tournament on parts of four days and as well as several social receptions in the evenings). Tickets to the Masters are about the toughest ticket in sports because worldwide demand exceeds supply by a huge margin. I was able to take Casey to the tournament since his mother lovingly gave up her share of my award.
I’ve been entering the lottery-like drawing for practice rounds tickets ever since, but this year was the only time I was lucky enough to get them. I was willing to pay all the travel expenses and I had only requested two Masters Tournament tickets, on opening practice rounds day this time. In other years I had requested as many as four tickets on practice days closer to the official opening of the tournament. (I continued to request a pair of tickets on opening practice rounds day in subsequent years, but my name hasn’t come up since.)
At an official Masters’ souvenir shop by the gate, I spent about $300 on souvenirs for myself including shirts and also several golf visors to give friends. Casey spent about $700 on shirts and caps for himself and to give to several of his co-workers at the Boeing launch project, which he smartly planned to treat as a business expense.
We were lucky to have a great day for our time on the golf course this year. Unfortunately, the way it works is that if you have the bad luck to be faced with play cancelled because of bad weather, it’s just your tough luck. All the hassle and expense of getting tickets, transportation and lodging to the tournament are your loss. As with the games of golf and life, there are no guarantees or make-goods.
I had been thrilled for several months ever since learning that my name had finally popped up in the mail-based lottery award of practice rounds tickets.
On the opening day, temperatures rose into the mid-70s, skies were sunny to partly cloudy and winds were gentle and about 10 mph – enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Casey and I first walked the course for a while and watched several players warm up on the practice range, where bleachers were erected for spectators like us. We happened to see a former Memphis neighbor, Casey’s childhood pal Patton Dycus, walk by. It turned out that he, too, had obtained a practice round ticket from a friend in Atlanta, where he works at a big law firm that has a long-standing policy of acquiring tickets to the Masters. (Years later, in 2007, Patton – who grew up two doors from us when we lived on University Street in Memphis - was best man at Casey’s wedding to Miss Caroline Cardon of Atlanta).
Casey and Patton headed off to walk the grounds of Augusta National Golf Course while I stayed back to enjoy some refreshment and watch the action from bleachers on Hole Nos. 1, 3, 15 and 17. I thought all those holes afforded extremely good viewing locations plus nearby food and restroom facilities. But on this day, the best viewing seemed to be on No. 17, where seating is available very close to the green.
During my viewing, I chanced to see golfing great Tiger Woods hit into the No. 1 hole and practice his putting on the green with playing partner and buddy Mark O’Meara. I saw they both ignored the “official rules” of no practice putts; I had no doubt that the minor infraction by players of their greatness would be not be penalized.
Relaxing in close-by bleachers, I also saw many other “big name players,” including Fuzzy Zoellar, Steve Ballesteros, David Duvall, Nick Faldo, Brad Faxon, Jim Furyk, Billy Mayfair, V.J. Singh, Hal Sutton and Tom Watson.
Unfortunately, due to my choices of viewing spots or the timing of their practice playing, I missed seeing several other of my admired golfers, including Arnold Palmer, John Daly, Greg Norman and a few others I would have liked to see.
The practice rounds, I learned, are decidedly casual when compared to the intense heat of the actual competition in the real tournament when so much money and fame are at stake. I was surprised to see that several players ignored the “rules” and hit two or more balls in the fairways. Some even “played” to patrons like me by intentionally “skipping” balls across ponds in front of Holes No. 3 and 16. Of course, the attentive crowd loved it.
Unlike on the actual tournament play days, camera and talking are allowed during the practice rounds. The Pinkerton guards who don’t hesitate to eject from the course – and for life – spectators who use their cell phones (strictly prohibited from the premises) or get unruly, were mainly out of sight on this day. Nonetheless, the thousands of “patrons” were on the very best behavior this day and later in the week during actual tournament play, unlike at some of the rowdy PGA events elsewhere including my hometown’s Federal Express-St. Jude annual event.
The facilities at Augusta National are way beyond adequate. The course, including its rough, is manicured. Since its members are among the most wealthy men in the U.S. and the club does not have profit as its primary objective, prices charged tournament patrons are surprisingly reasonable. Good sandwiches are $1.50, soft drinks are $1 and chips are 75 cents. Those prices are less than half of what is charged in Memphis.
I purchased a disposable camera at home and had no trouble taking it onto the course during the practice round I attended. Thankfully, the security x-rays at the airport didn’t ruin the film.
Tired from all the walking on the hills of Augusta National, Casey and I left the club shortly after 3 p.m. We enjoyed another good dinner that evening at the Holiday Inn – catfish for me – and retired early. I ate breakfast at 7 a.m. the next morning. Casey drove his rental car back to Atlanta and caught a flight to Salt Lake City, where he connected to another flight to Los Angeles and his return to work.
I went back to the motel room and napped until just before 10 a.m., then drove through a light rain to Atlanta, reflecting on how lucky we were that the rainfall didn’t come a day earlier. My 3:35 p.m. flight to Memphis on Northwest was uneventful and I got home on time, a little tired but happy that I had so much fun sharing the tournament experience with Casey.
Good Day at Old Waverly with Nassau Bet Wins
April 11, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my good golfing buddy, Curtis Downs, in his Lexus, leaving home at 8 a.m. Due to a bridge over Perkins being out for repairs, we met at the Wal-Mart parking lot at Winchester and the Bill Morris Parkway, a four-lane highway named in honor of a former mayor of Shelby County.
The drive took 3 hours. It was the first time Curtis and I have played together in months. The day started out quite cloudy, but by mid-day the sun had come out and the temperature was near 80 degrees. We both applied Coppertone Sport at the turn.
Curtis was surprisingly off his usual game, shooting a 48 on the front 9 and a 49 on the back 9 for a total score of 97. I shot a 46/46 for a 92, winning all three of our Nassau bets for probably the first time ever. I hit a total of 12 fairways, 5 greens and took 43 putts in all. It was a good day for me.
To Nashville for Screenwriters Conference
May 18-19, 2002 – To Nashville
I drove just over 200 miles eastward to Nashville in my Taurus station wagon, leaving home at 6 a.m. so I could attend the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, an annual event for budding amateurs like me. It was held at the Vanderbilt Marriot, which was pricey and sold out by the time I arrived the morning after the main event started.
I had decided to save $20-to-$40 a night by staying at a nearby Holiday Inn Select. The drive to Nashville was fine and I enjoyed seeing the fields of spring wildflowers growing along Interstate 40. The best view by far was that afforded by a two-mile stretch of thousands of red poppies that had been planted in the median strip near Dickson, Tenn., as part of the Governor’s Highway Beautification program.
There was an opening screenwriters’ reception on the Friday evening, but I passed in favor of attending a barbeque reception hosted by Gov. Don Sundquist at the big Memphis in May Barbeque Festival on the river bank at home. I had wanted to see the governor especially because I had been a volunteer captain of his barbeque team for eight years and this was his last appearance at the festival.
Unfortunately, just as I was dressed and about to head out the door at home, a terrible thunderstorm had raked Memphis. By the time it let up, it was 1 p.m. and too late for me to drive to the river, find a place to park and then walk to the BBQ site. I felt guilty about missing the reception and paying my respects to the governor since he had been a good friend to me and to my company – Schering-Plough - over the years during his years in Congress and as Governor of Tennessee.
It turned out that due to the long drive I missed most of the Saturday morning session of the Screenwriters Conference. However, it turned out that I probably didn’t miss much of interest to me because the session didn’t seem to be very well organized.
Overall, the Conference offered remarks and presentations by several big-name screenwriters and movie producers from Hollywood. Most were in loose, panel discussion formats. I was disappointed because the panelists were not properly introduced and many of their comments seemed to be “off-the-cuff.”
A high point of the Conference for me came at the “Aspiring Writers Lunch” at the Marriot, where I was lucky to sit at a table with David Self of Los Angeles, an established screenwriter whose work includes “13 Days in October” about the Cuban missile crisis. I happened to be extremely fortunate to be among a small group of attendees chosen by lottery to “pitch” my own screenplay under development to Larry Wilson, a professional writer whose credits include the Movies “Beetlejuice” and “Adams Family.” He read several pages of my screenplay “Blood” and his comments were encouraging.
I later contacted Wilson through an intermediary who has worked with him, Will Akers, a professor at Vanderbilt. I proposed a collaboration between me and Wilson to further develop the Blood script upon which I’ve been working for several years. Sadly, I was informed, he was not interested.
That evening, I passed on a private screening for Conference attendees of the new movie “The Rookie.” Having been up since 5 a.m. that morning, I was too tired to enjoy the movie. I had a “fair” dinner at the Cooker Restaurant of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and Caesar Salad. Regrettably, I suffered an extremely upset stomach two hours later and had a long night of it.
I attended what I considered a “half-assed” session of the Screenwriters Conference on Sunday morning, where only one of six panelists was introduced and none stayed on the subject of “Developing Talent in Your Hometown.” A session on “Action-Thriller and Other Genres” I’d been looking forward to was redirected to a boring, general question-and-answer session for attendees.
So I left the Conference early and checked out of the Holiday Inn and headed back to Memphis. I was careful during the drive home not to eat or drink anything due to the after-effects of my upset stomach. All in all, I decided that attending the conference was a waste of my time and not worth the fee charged and accrued expenses.
Hot Day But So-so Golf at Old Waverly
June 5, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly by myself in the Taurus station wagon and met there my good buddy of many years, Tim Parks. He had been in nearby Starkville, MS on his jewelry business and spent the night there. I was happy to treat Tim to lunch in the clubhouse (turkey sandwich for me and hot dog for him) before we ventured out onto the course in hot weather, with the high in the low 90s.
The course was in great condition and we had nobody in front of us or pushing us from the rear. We both had some good shots and started off with mulligan pars on Hole No. 1. However, we both had several blow-ups on both the front 9 and back 9. So I ended up shooting a 102 and Tim had a 105. I had spotted him a half a stroke a hole on each side and accordingly lost the Nassau bet. But I won the medal play and also won another $1 bet on sand play shots made at the practice tee later.
After golf, I treated Tim to a good dinner of Old Waverly burgers with a bottle of Monticello white wine. Despite the poor scores, it was a good day.
More Travels With Betty and Sally, Part 7
Green Valley and Tubac, AZ; Nogales, Mexico
June 18 – July 6, 2002
By Lewis Nolan
Speedy Links to Trip Segments:
July 1, 2001, Monday, – To Arizona
Betty and I were in no hurry to get on the road, so we dawdled around packing and making sandwiches at our son’s rental condo in Santa Barbara, CA while the morning traffic into and through L.A. cleared. We had a nine-hour drive ahead of us, from Santa Barbara to the western outskirts of Tucson. We pulled out at 9:15 a.m., headed south on 101 past Studio City, Universal City and other Hollywood locations. Traffic was fairly heavy but moving along at 60-to-65 miles an hour.
Our timing was as good as it could be since we passed through downtown L.A. shortly after 10 a.m., a low ebb in the daily tidal waves of commuters. Oddly, northbound traffic was bumper-to-bumper and in gridlock when we slid through the Highway 101 South-Interstate 10 East exchange at 10:45 a.m. It was a whiz, thanks to our son Casey’s advice on timing.
I enjoyed the cool temperatures of California’s Coast, which came to a gasping halt at lunchtime when we stopped for gas at Palm Springs. We opened the car doors into the desert oven of July. The Mohave Desert, which takes in most of Southern California, is only bearable because of air conditioning. The thermometer at one rest stop down the road in Arizona registered 105 degrees. I was fascinated to watch a lizard carefully thread its way around a picnic shelter by staying in the thin strips of shade made by the shadows of building posts.
Betty spelled me for an hour at the wheel when I became unusually drowsy. Possibly I was having a rebound effect from the muscle relaxant I took yesterday along with the thrice-daily doses of anti-inflammatory medication. It was 110 degrees when we passed through Phoenix; Sally’s air conditioner was running near max.
Thankfully, motorists’ time through the Arizona desert is shortened by the state’s sensible speed limit of 75 mph. I was told that Troopers generally let drivers get away with speeds of 5-to-10 mph over the limit when traffic is light, but definitely ticket at 11 mph over. So we pushed it a little and made good time east-bound on I-10, arriving at our Holiday Inn Select at 6:15 p.m., with the sun still high in the sky. Our motel was one of several properties clustered in a roadside lodging/eating colony between Marena and Tucson.
We dined on country cooking at the Cracker Barrel, with Betty opting for a vegetable plate and me going for grilled chicken. It was good.
July 2, 2002, Tuesday – To Green Valley and Tubac, AZ
The Holiday Inn had a better-than-usual, Continental breakfast buffet that was included in the room price. Offered were muffins, bagels, breads, fruit, boiled eggs, instant grits and biscuits and gravy. Nonetheless, I ate lightly, as did Betty, in deference to our increasingly delicate digestive systems as we age.
A map in a tourism brochure indicated that Tucson Botanical Gardens was near I-10, so we got off the interstate to have a look. But after several miles in traffic down Speedway and still no Gardens sign in sight, we realized we’d been had by the mapmaker.
We returned to the interstate, annoyed that our sister botanical society back home in Memphis would be a party to such deception. I ought to take the time to write a letter, but probably will not. This account is being written six months after the trip, from notes made daily in a journal as the journey unfolded. I can now appreciate what television news commentator Walter Cronkite was talking about when he described his retirement: “I get up a 7 a.m. with nothing on my calendar. But by 11 I’m behind.”
South of Tucson, we again visited the beautiful White Dove of the Desert, a popular name for the old Spanish mission of San Javier del Bac. It is still a working Catholic Church that serves the Tohono O’odham Indian tribe on the surrounding reservation.
I After all, the Spaniards built the missions throughout the Southwest to help convert the Native Americans to Christianity.
Restoration on the centuries-old building is still underway. But most of the work in the church proper appears to be complete. Some writers have called the interior “The Sistine Chapel of the Southwest.” I think that’s a big stretch even though it is beautiful.
The restored gilding, tiled floor, hand-carved altars and primitive artwork that decorates the murals impart a sense of spiritual peace that I’ve experienced in several of the great cathedrals of Europe. As is my custom when visiting Catholic churches, I lighted a candle in memory of my Irish Catholic forebears.
We purchased a small, pottery statuette of St. Francis of Assisi in the mission gift shop. St. Francis was the founder and patron saint of the Franciscan order, which still staffs the mission and tends to its flock of Indians and tourists. The 6-inch tall statuette is a stylized design crafted by a local artist with no formal training, April Romo DeViver. It looks great in our home at Christmas, alongside a hand-painted, pottery mission church we had purchased at nearby Tubac on a previous trip.
South of Tucson in the retirement community of Green Valley, we met with Ken Herb, a real estate agent with whom I had corresponded earlier. He has lived in Green Valley for 22 years and represents the Coldwell Banker firm locally. One of our Memphis friends who is affiliated with the company had put me in touch with Ken about six months earlier. Ken had kindly provided me with information on properties in the area. I had been interested in looking into the possibility of buying another vacation home around Green Valley since our last visit.
We looked at several villas and town homes in Green Valley proper, where gray hair rules. Children under 18 cannot reside (visits are OK) and at least one member of the family must be 55 or older. Prices are relatively cheap due to the low value of the Sonoran Desert land and velocity of the market due to the aging of the Green Valley population.
The retirement community has a population of 25,000 and an extensive array of services that appeal to mature adults. There are several excellent golf courses, facilities offering classes of every description and a raft of well-equipped fitness and recreation centers. Green Valley is self-contained but close enough to Tucson (pop. 850,000) to have easy access to the services a city can offer. But it is a laid-back oasis of winter warmth, tidy homes and desert beauty and peace.
We looked at a one-bedroom villa that was built in 1964 and on the market at a surprisingly cheap $39,900; a two-bedroom villa facing a communal swimming pool offered at $46,000; and several spacious town homes priced from $64,000 to $82,500. The prices made it tempting for us to buy another vacation property and rent it out during the peak winter season. But with the stock market in shambles and our son entering grad school next month, we decided that the investment is not for us at this time. We’ll likely revisit the possibility in the future.
We like the mild temperatures of Southern Arizona in the winter. Living in Memphis, we are used to the hot days of summer. Normal desert temps for February range from a high of 68 and a low of 41. The hottest month is June, when highs reach 100 and lows drop to 68. We have learned to avoid the Tucson area in the “monsoon months” of July and August, when afternoon thunderstorms are frequent. The area receives an average of 350 days of sunshine every year.
There is an incredible array of things to do and see in the Tucson vicinity. Among the ones we’ve so far missed but intend to visit are the Pima Air and Space Museum, which includes a military aircraft bone yard and JFK’s Air Force One; Kitt Peak National Observatory and its world’s largest collection of optical telescopes; and several of the nation’s finest birding areas.
Our next stop was Tubac Golf Resort a few miles to the south, perhaps our favorite place in the sun outside of Gulf Shores, Ala. We were given a huge room with a patio that looked out on a Spanish Colonial fountain and several rose bushes in full bloom.
This is our second stay at the resort but our fourth stay in the area. Twice before we enjoyed long weekends at the nearby Rio Rico Resort, home to a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course that is rated one of Arizona’s best.
For us, Tubac Golf Resort defines casual but elegant comfort. It is at once plush but un-ostentatious. Its character seems to be laid back but practical. The staff is extraordinarily friendly, perhaps taking on the sunny character of nearby Mexico. There are only 46 guest units, all in adobe and brick, one-story buildings that are neatly placed among the manicured lawns and plantings. Some face a large swimming pool, some face fountains surrounded by roses and some face the golf course.
The late Bing Crosby was an early owner of the resort, which has been a favorite retreat for the Hollywood set wanting more desert privacy than Palm Springs allows. Two Presidents of the United States have played golf here as have a galaxy of movie stars. Much of the Kevin Costner movie “Tin Cup” was filmed here.
There is no disguising the fact that Tubac is very hot in July even though the resort’s shade trees, lush grass, ponds and bubbling fountains are cooling to the eye. The afternoon temperatures rose to 105 degrees during our stay. A dry wind makes the heat more bearable that it would be back home in maximum humidity Memphis.
Mornings in July are reasonably mild, with lows in the 70s and low 80s. Golfers pay a premium for early tee times. Summertime is the off season here and elsewhere in Southern Arizona. Our room rate was $90 a day, about a third less than it is during the winter. Mid-morning and afternoon golf was $20 – including a cart.
The town of Tubac was founded in 1752 by Spanish settlers. The same settlers moved to Tucson a few years later because of raids by the fierce Apache Indians. Tubac today is an artists' colony that hosts a huge festival in late February that we’ve twice attended. The village serves up a neat collection of the history of the Southwest, adobe architecture and dozens of modern shops and galleries featuring arts and crafts. This year marks the 250th anniversary of what was once the capital of the territory.
The resort is on 400 acres that were once a tiny part of the historic Otero Ranch, which was established in 1789. It was the first Spanish land grant in what is now Arizona. The Sonoran desert elevation of 3,200 feet keeps Tubac cooler than the Phoenix area way to the north. The Santa Cruz river, merely a trickle during our last visit and totally dry this time, provides enough moisture in the ground to support cottonwood, mesquite and other trees along its banks.
We drove south 20 or so minutes to Nogales, where we walked across the border into Mexico. It’s the easiest crossing we’ve made into Mexico and we’ve done it several times now. We parked in a pay, watched and fenced lot adjacent to a McDonalds and walked about a block to the border.
Nogales is one of Betty’s favorite shopping spots because of the cheap prices and affability of the English-speaking shopkeepers, who seem to enjoy a bantering, bargaining dialog with the tourists. They all sell practically identical inventories of souvenirs, junk and Mexican crafts. It’s amazing how different the prices are at the dozens of shops and stalls within a few hundred yards of the border. With this being the tourism off-season and the Peso’s value falling by the day, most shopkeepers appeared to be eager for American dollars and ready to deal.
Betty bought a bolo tie for me, after haggling the price down from $89 to $43. The slide is made of sterling silver with a marble-sized, centerpiece stone of lapis lazuli. I hardly ever wear traditional neckties now that I’m retired, preferring western string ties to jazz up the golf shirts I usually wear to Sunday school. She also bought some silver bracelets, earrings, four quarts of vanilla, two liters of tequila and a mirror framed by hand-hammered tin and Mexican tile. We shopped for a couple of hours and Betty enjoyed it immensely.
Quite a few pharmacies have opened just steps from the border since our last visit. This is probably the result of an easing by U.S. Customs of restrictions on Americans bringing home small quantities of non-narcotic prescription medicines. Thousands of Americans now cross the borders with Mexico and Canada on a regular basis to save some serious money.
A flyer handed me by a shill for one of the stores advertised 100 mg. Celebrex for just over $1 each; 10 mg. Claritin for 25 cents each (roughly a tenth of the cost in the U.S.); 5 mg. of Norvasc for $1 each (a bit over half the cost in the U.S.); and 625 mg. of Premarin for 17 cents each (roughly a tenth of the cost in the U.S.)
The deep discounting of American drugs made possible by price controls in Mexico and Canada pose major public relations problems for U.S. pharmaceutical companies. It costs over $600 million to develop a new drug and bring it to market in the U.S. That investment must be recouped over the patent life of the drug, usually 10 years. It means that American consumers pay the “sticker price” while foreign consumers enjoy the benefits of new drugs without paying their share of the development costs. Price controls and loose patent laws in many countries (plus the drug companies’ willingness to accept artificially low prices in order to gain distribution) have created an intractable situation that’s a political yo-yo.
American consumers are enraged by the disparity in prices, as are many of the mouthy politicians who represent them. The steady stream of Americans crossing the border to buy their drugs is a frequent news and rhetoric topic today. But if the wave of sentiment should result in the federal government forcing the U.S. pharmaceutical industry to lower prices, the whole world will suffer. Cheap drugs will not fund desperately needed, scientific research into new compounds to treat such horrible diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Aids.
Oddly, nobody is screaming for price controls on food stuffs, automobiles, gasoline, school tuition or wages. What is lost in the babble is the fact that neither Mexico nor Canada develop new drugs. Their citizens get a free ride on the backs of American consumers who pay for the research through higher prices on the drugs they buy at home. All the political posturing and self-serving attitudes do nothing to advance the discovery of new drugs to improve the span and quality of life.
On our short drive from Nogales back to Tubac, all northbound traffic had to detour off I-19 to pass through a checkpoint manned by armed members of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Trucks, SUV’s and suspicious autos were stopped and searched for illegal aliens trying to sneak into the U.S. Those caught were taken to a waiting bus that would eventually transport them back to Mexico, where everybody knows they’ll soon try again. I guess we looked OK since the guards waved us through.
I feel sorry for the hard-working illegals. They are desperate for work in the U.S. so they can support their families back home. But I have mixed emotions about their plight and pressure on the American job market. In the last few years, the Hispanic population has gone from virtually zero in Memphis to an estimated 80,000. The mainly Mexican workers have a significant presence in the construction industry’s dirty work, pouring concrete and ditch digging. Recently springing up to serve them are two radio stations, a weekly newspaper and a bunch of restaurants and specialty food stores called Mercadoes.
Once back at the Tubac resort, I cooled off in the mostly deserted pool and eased my sore leg in a vigorously bubbling hot tub. We savored a bottle of Firestone Vineyard’s Gewurtizrimer, then had a delightful dinner in the resort’s Stables Restaurant. It is so named because the old building once housed horses. I went for a delicious sea bass while Betty opted for lemon chicken. The portions were generous and included a medley of cooked vegetables. Caesar Salad for me and tasty chicken soup for her.
It was a terrific, relaxing evening once the sun went down and the desert cooled. We strolled around the grounds and had a good time watching the Mexican freetail bats and the birds dart about to catch insect dinner on the wing.
July 3, 2002, Wednesday – In Tubac
While Betty slept in, I started the day with an unusually large breakfast in the hotel dining room – delicious ham, scrambled eggs, browned potatoes cooked with bell peppers and a Diet Coke. The mission-style room’s half-moon windows perfectly framed the view of the golf course and two large, Cottonwood trees. It was a great way to start the day.
Golf Magazine described Tubac a “must play course” in a 1999 article about Southern Arizona, saying “Front nine meanders through Old Otero Ranch; back nine wanders along banks of Santa Cruz River. Superb greens.”
Driving a cart, I teed off at 9:45 a.m. and played 18 holes in three hours. I was by myself and only went through one group so deserted was the course. The resort course is very nice and surprisingly plush and well watered given the desert environment. I’ve played well here before. But I must say I played better three years ago when the boxes had four sets of tees and I went off the yellow, or senior, markers. The distance then was probably 5,600 yards, which is more suited to my short drives (as Trevino once cracked, “the older you get the longer you used to be.”) The way the course was set up this time it played 6,893 yards off the championship tees (rating of 71.8 and slope of 126); 6,316 yards off the regular tees (rating of 69,3 and slope of 116) and 5,384 yards off the forward/ladies tees (rating of 65.4 and slope of 111).
I played the regular “white” tees, which put extra pressure on my game since I don’t usually have the length off the tee to reach greens in regulation on holes of 400 yards. There were three of those at Tubac plus two par 3s over 200 yards. One of the par 4s was 418 yards. No way, not even with a three-wood. I ended up shooting 45/46 for a 91, which was OK golf for me under the circumstances. The generous fairways, absence of hillside lies and true greens helped my game a lot. And my game has certainly been in need of a lot of help this year, mostly due to lack play because of an injured leg. I managed only three pars, which were cancelled out by three doubles and a triple bogey. I hit seven fairways but only 1 green because of the distance; I was short by 20 or more yards time after time. I took 35 putts, including 3 threes.
After golf, I took a mid-day siesta while Betty shopped in some of the town of Tubac’s 80 shops and arts and crafts galleries. She bought a thimble to add to her collection, a beaded necklace for her eyeglasses and a very nice, hand-painted Nativity set. Later, she took advantage of the resort’s self-service laundry (reasonably priced at 75 cents a washer load compared to the $1.75 charged at Casey’s condo complex in Santa Barbara).
We had another nice dinner at the resort restaurant. I opted for a Caesar salad topped with shrimp while Betty went for two enormous pork chops in a mango sauce. It was a clear night and the stars were brilliant and without number.
Another Hot Day at Old Waverly, but Great Company
July 18, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly with my son Casey in the Taurus station wagon while he was home for a visit of a week on his way from Santa Barbara to Boston. He has been working in California as a project engineer for his company’s construction of a rocket launch facility, which he recently resigned from in favor of entering the MBA program at Harvard University. He had driven his Mustang convertible from Santa Barbara to Memphis via Las Vegas, Zion National Park in Utah, South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore, Minnesota and Chicago (for a Cubs-Braves game with a college pal). After his unwinding time at home, he will drive on to Atlanta, Washington, DC, New York and Boston suburb of Cambridge, home of Harvard.
Casey and I had some good conversations about his plans, school, corporate life, his investments and his personal life during our drives to Old Waverly and back. He hasn’t played much golf while living at Santa Barbara, mainly due to his working a lot of hours plus his interest in competing in triathlons and the excellent training facilities available to him.
Despite the lack of practice, Casey shot some excellent golf at Old Waverly, scoring an 85. I had a lucky 48 on the front 9, but further injured a pulled thigh muscle. I ended up with ball pickups on several holes on the back 9 so didn’t card my high score. It was a hot day but we enjoyed the golf, the club and the company.
Sore Thigh Gets in Way of Gulf Shores Relaxation
July 24 – Aug. 3, 2002 – To Gulf Shores, AL
I drove to Gulf Shores with Betty in our Ford Taurus station wagon. It was too hot for Dickens so we left our pet greyhound at the boarding kennel at the West Memphis dog track. We saw off Casey, who was driving his 1998 Mustang convertible top-down to Boston via Atlanta on his cross-country odyssey of 3,200 miles from California.
Both my leg thighs were quite sore from the long drives to and from California earlier and had been re-injured from my golf swing and work with weights at the French Riviera Spa in our neighborhood.
I took three doses a day of the Indomethecin muscle relaxant and sat on a pillow during the eight-hour drive on a Wednesday from Memphis to Gulf Shores, AL. I quickly found that I wasn’t able to walk with any comfort on the uneven sand beach in front of our condo along the Gulf of Mexico. The beach was rough due to high tides during the day.
The only golf I could manage on this trip was 9 crummy holes despite riding a cart at the State Park course I usually play several times during our four annual visits to Gulf Shores. We didn’t even bring our bikes on this trip, which are usually strapped onto a carrier mounted on the rear of the station wagon.
We made five stops on the drive south from Memphis, an unusually high number due to my need to try to walk to ease my thigh pain. This was our first trip to the beach since Christmas. We ate chicken sandwiches during our drive. The weather was okay until we reached Alabama, where it rained at least part of every day but one of our 10 days of stay.
Upon our arrival, we enjoyed a fine seafood dinner at our favorite restaurant in Gulf Shores, The Spot. We were lucky and got put ahead of the line and were given a window table overlooking the beach and mild surf of the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of our days in Gulf Shores were spent dealing with maintenance and by my writing travelogues about our recent trip to California. I worked on my company’s Compaq portable computer while Betty shopped at the mall and in town and sunned on the beach. We ate twice at The Spot and twice enjoyed lunch at the Wolf Bay Lodge a few miles to the north and east, where we purchased their great gumbo for carryout dinners at our condo and for dinner at home in Memphis.
Lots of maintenance on our condo had to be done including work on the carpet, floors, moulding, air conditioning, closet doors and outdoors deck. We needed to shop for replacement furniture, equipment and supplies.
We had missed our usual Spring and early summer cleaning and maintenance projects since we traveled to Ireland rather than Gulf Shores at Easter then went to California in June. Our condo showed the neglect. But after a lot of work plus some help from Gulf Shores builder Larry Peavy’s crew arranged on our behalf by Kaiser Realty, our unit looked its usually spiffy self.
We cooked some delicious fresh fish and also Royal Red Shrimp in the condo.
On Monday, July 29, our longtime friends Marty and Marge Pendleton drove over to Gulf Shores from their home in Biloxi, Miss., for a nice visit. We treated them to lunch at the Outrigger Restaurant and watched yachts and fishing boats sail in and out of the adjacent Perdido Bay recreation area. We admired Marty’s new, silver Mustang convertible. Marty is retired after a career of distinguished service in the U.S. Marines. He and Marge lived in Memphis for some years before moving to the Mississippi Coast.
I was able to take advantage of the paved bike paths along West Beach Blvd. in Gulf Shores and walked several times on the smooth, flat ground. My sore legs and a large amount of loose seaweed washed up on the beach made my usual long walks on the beach all but impossible.
Betty and I visited Kaiser Realty to meet with our property managers. We had a nice visit with Roger Kaiser, who sold us the condo nearly 20 years ago. His brother, Glen Kaiser, had tried mightily for a year to sell the condo on our behalf, but a soft market resulted in only minimal purchase interest.
On July 31, Betty attacked the Riviera Mall in nearby Foley, AL with a “battle plan” for her shopping while I stayed behind at the condo to work on my travelogues on a portable computer. Upon her return, we walked for two miles alongside West Beach Blvd. We thought the Gulf is as pretty as we have ever seen it, looking a lot like the beautiful ocean around South Florida or Mediterranean. The pristine beauty of clear ocean water with light shades of blue is probably due to the lack of storms or any major flooding of the Tombigbee or other inland rivers that empty into Mobile Bay.
That evening, I cooked Red Snapper for dinner and it was delicious.
I played golf at the State Park course on Aug. 1 but only managed 9 holes after re-pulling a deep thigh muscle during a big swing on the No. 7 Hole tee. I rented a golf cart and played with three brothers including Kermit and Herman Davis. It turned out that Kermit had retired from my alma mater of Mississippi State in 1990 after coaching basketball there for many years. I had attended some games during my time at State in the mid-1960s. It’s a small world. One of the brothers works at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Memphis and recognized me as an occasional player there. Another brother retired from the Memphis Kellogg’s Cereal plant and we knew several of the same people.
Despite my injury I was able to score a 46 on the front 9, making two pars but having 3 three-putts.
Betty and I enjoyed dinner that evening at The Spot. We returned to the Wolf Bay Lodge the next day, Aug. 2, to buy a quart of their excellent takeout gumbo to carry with us the next day on the long drive home. We stopped by a Gulf Shores print shop to pick up a “keep out” sign to place on the owner’s cabinet in our condo bathroom and also bought some mahi-mahi to take home.
We made the drive home to Memphis on Saturday, August 3, in 7 ½ hours despite making 5 stops. That was good time for us.
Old Waverly Temperature is 95; My Score is 94
Sept. 10, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly by myself in my Ford Taurus station wagon for my first full round of golf since playing at Tubac, AZ in July. Despite losing 35 pounds on the Atkins low-carb diet over the last five weeks, I still required a seat cushion under my leg to ease the pressure on my thigh during the 150-mile drive.
It was a sunny but hot day, with the high reaching 95 degrees. I had the course mostly to myself and played 18 holes in 3 hours. I shot a 47 on the front 9 and a 47 on the back 9 for a total score of 94. I had 4 pars, hit 8 fairways and 3 greens in regulation and took only 33 putts. On the bad side, I put 4 golf balls into the water hazards. Overall, I hit the ball pretty good and played well. Now that I’ve lost some of the big bulge around my waist, I think I’m swinging the club a little easier.
I resisted the clubhouse grill’s temptations and stuck to my Atkins diet, eating a turkey and cheese sandwich on low-carb bread for lunch and a bacon-cheeseburger without the bread for dinner, plus two white wine spritzers that really hit the spot.
It was a fun day although I must say I was quite tired at the end of my round.
Nice Day But Lousy Golf at Old Waverly
Sept. 24, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly in my trusty Taurus wagon, making an early start and leaving home at 7:10 a.m. The lack of early trucking traffic around the Memphis City Limits made for a drive that only took 2 ½ hours. I was briefly stopped and annoyed at the Old Waverly gate by a guard who pretended to not know that I was a longtime member.
I had a good day even though my score on the golf course was awful. I shot 99. I played the back 9 holes first due to aeration of the greens being underway on the front 9. For practice, I hit two balls into some of the greens due to slow play being made even slower by my solo play.
On the positive side, I stuck to my Atkins diet even though I did allow myself a Miller Lite beer. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch and a hamburger without bread for dinner.
Train Ride Yields Beauty in Ozarks Mountains
Oct. 4-6, 2002 – To Van Buren and Fort Smith, AR
Betty and I drove on a beautiful fall afternoon to Van Buren, AR in the Taurus station wagon after dropping our pet greyhound, Dickens, off at the boarding kennel at the Southland dog track in West Memphis, AR. Traffic on westbound Interstate 40 moved slow because of a lot of construction so we hit Little Rock during rush hour. In all, the drive took more than 5 hours.
Due to nightfall, we had a tough time finding the Comfort Inn on the outskirts of Van Buren, where we reserved a “free” room due to accumulated good customer points. Dinner that evening was on the road and consisted of cheese and Cajun chicken. The motel room was okay, but a bit under the usual comfort and cheerful décor we’ve grown accustomed to by our patronage of Comfort.
I got up early on the Saturday morning to scout out the Arkansas and Missouri Railway Co.’s depot in the historic district of Van Buren and to get from McDonald’s a breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage. I passed on the complimentary breakfast served at the motel since I’m still on the Atkins low-carb diet. I’m proud to have lost 50 pounds in just over 8 weeks and am not about to give it up in favor of a little free but fattening food. I’m also the beneficiary of a big drop in blood pressure and my triglyceride level.
Saturday gave us a beautiful, cool fall morning for our three-hour train ride through the Boston Mountains section of the Ozarks near the Northwest Arkansas border with Oklahoma. Following are highlights from our ride:
· I put a penny on the railroad track at the Van Buren depot in hopes that it would be flattened by the locomotive and two restored “Golden Age” passenger cars rolling over it.
· The conductor was an old man who told old jokes.
· We went through a tunnel in a mountain that was 1,102 feet long.
· We passed over three high trestles. One was 700 feet long and 124 feet tall at its highest point.
· We only saw a surprising paucity of fall color in the leaves of the heavily forested Ozarks the train drove through. The views of the stream beds and hillsides were beautiful.
· One stretch of beauty was locally known as Frog Bayou, which turned into Clear Creek.
· A photographer worked the train, taking souvenir pictures of those on the excursion. The train briefly stopped so he could get off at the community of Rudy. The train also stopped there on the way back and he boarded to sell prints of photos he had taken shortly before.
· The train turned around at Winslow, roughly half-way through the three-hour ride.
· There are 5 freight trains that run daily on the track that was once operated by the old Frisco Railroad, which was purchased some years ago by the Burlington Northern.
After the train ride, Betty and I had a good lunch at the Classic Café and Grill in the historic district of Van Buren, which serves healthy food and prohibits smoking on the premises. The menu offered three low-carb meals. I went for a burger without bread, served with cheese, mushroom and salad.
We poked around several antique shops and crafts outlets in the historic district. Betty bought some pilgrim and pumpkin decorations for use at home around Halloween plus several fancy tee shirts.
Later that day, we drove across the Arkansas River, which was quite pretty in the late afternoon sun, to the adjacent, historic town of Fort Smith (population 80,000). Unlike in Van Buren, beer and liquor are sold in Fort Smith.
As chance would have it, there happened to be a major festival underway between the historic area of town and the river. We enjoyed watching a bicycle race that was led by professional cyclists whiz by the downtown street we walked.
The National Park Service operates a historic landmark/monument that marks the old U.S. Army Fort and court house in Fort Smith. From the 1870s, Fort Smith was the “capital” of the western section of Arkansas that was a frontier. Feuding Chickasaw and Osage Indians and “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker played major roles in the history of the area.
The judge sentenced 160 frontier characters to death by hanging and 79 actually swung on the fort’s gallows, which have been re-created as part of the tourism showcase. While walking beneath the gallows was a bit creepy, this was an interesting, varied and altogether delightful day.
We stopped at a gussied up Visitor Center building made of wood that was built as “Miss Laura’s Social Club,” which was once a house of prostitution. The three-story, Victorian style building was closed on the late Saturday afternoon of our visit, but signage said it was the only brothel in Fort Smith that is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
Tired from the train ride and walking around Fort Smith, we decided to make do with McDonald’s carryout food for dinner and watched the big football game between Tennessee and Arkansas that was on television. The Tennessee Vols finally won in the 6th overtime.
We slept in on Sunday morning. I went out to pick up an Egg McMuffin while Betty ate the motel’s free breakfast offering. We then departed Van Buren for the five-hour drive back to West Memphis on a beautiful fall day. We stopped at Wiedecker Vineyards near Altos, AR for our first return visit in about 20 years. We enjoyed a few tastings of the Arkansas wine and bought a mixed case of Wiedecker’s Niagra, Merlot and French Columbine fine products.
We also stopped for a late lunch at a Western Sizzling restaurant just off the Interstate, where I had a good but quite small sirloin steak. We then picked up Dickens at the boarding kennel and made it home by 4 p.m.
Golf Lesson Wash-out, Diet Advice at Old Waverly
Oct. 1, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly by myself in my Ford Taurus station wagon to take a golf lesson from head pro Chris Jester. After I checked with him and arranged to meet on the practice tee in 30-to-45 minutes, I had a quick, low-carb lunch of a breadless “turkey melt” made by clubhouse employee Gerald at the turn. I then repaired to the practice tee for my lesson and was surprised that Chris was a no-show.
He later apologized for the lapse in his memory. I suspected that a club VIP (maybe a member of the owning Bryan family) had bumped his priorities. It was a little late to reschedule the lesson, so I hooked up with another member, Dr. Marshall Stamper, age 70-plus, of Southern California. It turned out he was a wealthy physician who owned a 31-outlet chain of diet clinics in the L.A. area. His wife has family in Mississippi and he joined Old Waverly so he would have a quality place to play golf when they make their annual visits.
Marshall said he and his associates see an average of 3,500 patients a week, charging them $25 each for counseling on an effective, low-carbohydrate diet that is augmented by vitamins and mineral supplements plus personally tailored mental mantras, i.e. “I’m too smart (or too sexy, too handsome or too loved) to be fat.”
I thought Marshall, who was a pretty good golfer for a man his age, was a little overbearing and “holier than thou” at times. But overall he was a pleasure to be with. He gave me some good advice on diet changes in my program of eating on the Atkins diet approach.
Marshall had adopted the “yogi” approach to golf, based on the teachings of a former great golfer and practitioner of yogic exercises that gave him a sound, repetitive technique to hit long and straight drives. It was a nice day for golf and I shot a 92. He was several strokes lower even though at least 20 years older than me. I checked out a book he recommended but the “yogi” technique proved to be elusive for me.
Walking the Walk but Score Still High
Oct. 31, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove by myself to Old Waverly in my Taurus station wagon on a promising day of nice weather. I was able to walk all 18 holes for the first time in several years, feeling my recent weight loss merited a try at it.
I started out by walking the back 9 first, which has the flatter ground of the course and shot an indifferent 48. I felt good enough to walk the front 9 then and shot a 50, for a total of a ho-hum 98. However, I found out that the four-mile walk made while pulling a golf cart really tired me out. I was sore for two days.
Old Waverly Soggy After Heavy Rains
Nov. 14, 2002 – To Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, MS
I drove to Old Waverly in the Ford Taurus station wagon for what could be my last golf round of the year. I had invited several golf buddies to join me, but none were able to make a day of it so off I went by myself. Most of the guys I regularly play with had already played at Old Waverly so an invitation no longer has the cachet it once did when Old Waverly was relatively new to the Mid-South and the only area course on Golf Digest’s Top 100 list.
I walked the back 9 holes first, then drove a cart on the Front 9. I was unlucky to get stuck behind a threesome that was behind several groups, which made for a very slow round. The ground was soggy so I had to keep my cart on the paved path, which made the slowness of play at times excruciating.
The wetness of the course dates to Hurricane Isadore coming through this far inland and dumping 8 inches of rain on the area. Heavy rains in subsequent days kept the course from drying out.
I shot a lousy 101. I had zero pars and a bunch of three-putts.
To Boston for Visit with Casey, Cousin Dick
Nov. 27-30, 2002 – To Boston
Betty and I got up early – at 5 a.m. – on a cold morning and drove from our home in Memphis to the airport, arriving just before 7 a.m. per airline instructions. It was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, which is usually the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S.
As has often been the case with my flights in recent years, we were delayed. It seems the Delta flight to Atlanta had a mechanical problem – the compass wasn’t working properly. So we changed to a direct Northwest flight to Boston at 12:30 p.m. The delay of several hours from our early start was somewhat compensated for when Delta bumped us up to Business Class for the long flight. We enjoyed the roomy seats and a free lunch of turkey sandwiches and white wine.
Thanks to a 159-mph tailwind, we made it into Boston’s Logan Airport in 2 hours and 7 minutes, remarkably fast time.
Casey met us at the airport, where I discovered that my wool cap purchased several years ago in Ireland’s Aran Islands had somehow fallen out of my raincoat pocket. To my regret, my later checks with Delta, Northwest and the Memphis airport came up dry and I was without the warm cap needed for the cold of Boston. Betty wore her mink coat and a Pendleton shirt for the trip, clothing that helped her brave the remnants of a snowstorm that dropped 6 inches of snow on the Boston suburb of Lexington, MA, home of my first cousin Dick Nolan and his wife, Pam.
Casey drove us to Dick and Pam’s spacious home, in a ritzy neighborhood where another big home was selling for $3.6 million. To Dick’s credit, he is the most financially and academically successful member of the Nolan family that I know about. He has written more than 20 books on computer management and technology’s place in American corporations. He holds a PhD degree and an endowed chair at Harvard Business School. Dick was a founding principal of the globally recognized computer management consulting firm of Nolan Norton before returning to Harvard to teach graduate students like Casey.
Betty and I enjoyed the evening with Casey, Dick and Pam. Joining us was their youngest son Ben, a veterinary medicine student at Boston’s Tufts University, and Chris, Ben’s roommate and fellow student.
We spent Thanksgiving Day, a Thursday, hanging out at Dick and Pam’s home and had a good time playing with their lovable dog, McArthur who had been named in honor of a former dean of the Harvard Business School.
Pam cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings. I stuck to my Atkins diet (having lost 67 pounds so far on the low-carb regime) and ate only white turkey meat and a salad. I did have a glass of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay wine, one of our
That evening, we paired into two teams (me, Dick and Chris on one team and Betty, Casey and Ben on the other, with Pam serving as referee-moderator) for a game of Trivial Pursuit. The hotly contested match produced a lot of laughs and more than a few mistakes. I happened to be lucky enough to answer correctly a question about TV “Q” ratings (which pertain to the likeability of newscasters) and my team won the match. After all, who could ever serve as more of a storehouse of useless information except for Trivial Pursuit answers than Dick or me?
On Friday morning, Betty and Casey went shopping in Boston. Betty’s fur coat unfortunately drew an obnoxious woman to loudly protest. Betty later said she would avoid wearing her beautiful, full length mink coat in public places rather than invite the unfair and rude abuse from the politically correct, vocal animal rights nuts she was subjected to.
At mid-morning, Dick and I drove in his Ford pickup truck to Harvard Business School (HBS), where he gave me a grand tour of the main building and awed me with a demonstration of its computing network. Dick also kindly gave me three signed copies of his books on information technology.
I met up with Betty and Casey and we took some photos of the snow-covered, beautiful campus. We visited Casey’s tiny dormitory room, where a little of his bottle of stowed bourbon helped settle my upset stomach. We drove from campus to downtown Boston through fairly heavy, afternoon traffic and parked in an underground garage for what I thought was an outrageous charge of $30. Betty bought Casey a shirt and necktie at the nearby Brooks Brothers clothing store.
We poked around Quincy Market, where a replica of TV’s famous Cheers Bar draws tourists. We walked through the Fanuil Hall meeting site that fermented the American Revolution. We only had time to brace against the bitter cold wind blowing in from the Boston Harbor for a quick look at the great aquarium that I had visited about 10 years ago when I was in Boston for a seminar on corporate communications put on by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
We went to the famous and historic Union Oyster House for an early dinner and to warm up with drinks (gin for me, Guinness stout for Casey and cappuccino for Betty). Dick and Pam joined us at 5:30 p.m. and we had an excellent dinner. I had the scrod and Betty had the scallops.
On Saturday morning, Pam cooked a delicious omelet and served it with bacon and sausage for a memorable Nolan family breakfast. I gave Casey an Old Waverly golf cap, which he was glad to get since his Masters Tournament cap has become politically incorrect at HBS because of a flap over the Augusta National club having no women members.
Dick and I talked some more at his house later in the morning about my suggestions for his planned book on Internet 2 and he seemed to be receptive to my thinking on the subject.
Casey drove Betty and me to the airport for our 12:05 p.m. flight to Atlanta. We took advantage of an opportunity to upgrade our seats for $75 to Business Class. We were glad we did because the plane was full and slow against headwinds. It took over 3 hours to fly to Atlanta. Plus, we were served a light lunch with wine in the upgraded seats.
Everything was on time and we got home at 7 p.m. after paying $44 for airport parking. It was a great trip and a delight to spend time with Dick and his family. But I would not want to travel to Boston in the dead of winter again.
Annual December Visit to Gulf Shores, AL
The travelogue about our week in Gulf Shores, AL Dec. 29, 2002 – Jan. 4, 2003 is in the travelogue about 2003 trips at Getaways 2003.