Archive for June 18, 2010

Days 18 and 19: Great people

June 18, 2010 10 comments
Location: Endwell, NY
Though I haven’t ventured far from the vicinity of home in the past few days, it’s still been an enjoyable part of this adventure to reconnect with some old friends.  Wednesday afternoon, I met up with friends I worked with in Owego for two years.  Allan, one of the guys from my former department., kindly organized a lunch outing at the Owego Treadway.

Allan and Linda

In total there were 12 of us together, and we all were able to joke around again as if I have never left the place.  These were some of the folks I started a career with, and I was lucky to have that chance to work with them in those early days of my brief four-year corporate experience.

The generosity of this group was something beyond touching.  Not only did they get me a nice card that everyone signed, but after the card came a box wrapped in an outdoors/wildlife theme.  I was blown away with what was inside.  For one, knowing that I would be encountering all kinds of bugs on this trip and next year’s adventures overseas, they got me a couple mosquito nets for the head, and then a big one for sleeping under.

West Nile and Malaria be damned

Also inside the box were a number of gift cards.  Several Exxon gas cards (because there are Exxon stations in Alaska, as they researched), a gift card for Dick’s, and a VISA gift card.  Unreal.  Such a thoughtful group of people…I haven’t seen most of these guys in about two years, and here they are with all these amazing gifts to help me along in my travels.  I was speechless.  Add this to the fact that all of them took time out to have lunch with this wandering fool.  What a wonderful group.

With hugs and heartfelt words of encouragement, we parted ways. As many have said earlier, I am indeed “rich.” A big thank you to my friends in Owego.

Met up with some friends to play some ball while was in town.  It certainly wasn’t pretty, as I was about 1 for 28 on the night, but still a great time.  With my group of friends, we have some competitive games, but it’s still all in fun.

Chico, Dan, and Dan

The three Dans. Congrats to the Dan on the left, as he is getting married next week.

Don showing his Celtic Pride

Ended the night with a nice time at Moon Star chinese restaurant, followed with some sitting in some cushy chairs at a local lounge bar.  The fun night ended, and I returned to my woefully unpacked state of a bedroom.

The following morning I dropped off my car for some maintenance work at Mike Shara’s in Endwell.  Mike’s shop has taken care of my family’s cars for years, and we’ve only been treated with friendliness and professionalism from day one (quite a bonus when the shop is just down the street, too).  I requested an oil change, and also asked they take an overall look at the car to see if anything might be needed before this journey expands further across the country.

After dropping off the car, I met up with friends Tony and Katie, along with their son Anthony, for breakfast.  Tony’s family and my own have known each other for years, but I didn’t really get to know Tony until we both started working around the same time in 2006 in Owego. Since that time I’ve gotten to know him and his wife well, and then not long after, their little guy.  And Anthony’s vocabulary has grown exponetionally since I last visited with them.  I was impressed.  What an enjoyable time eating with this family.

Little Tony

After a delicious breakfast of stuffed french toast (gotta be careful, I’ve been eating far too well in this stay at home), I said my goodbyes and headed back home for some more organizing.  I’m happy to know that my car will be less full when I hit the road on Saturday, as I’ll only have roadtrip-specific items in there (as opposed to items I’m also moving home).  However, getting all of that together properly has been a slight challenge.

I was informed by Rick at Shara’s that the car was in good shape, though he advised me that in about 15K miles, it’s recommended that I replace my spark plugs.  I figured since I’d be out West somewhere by the time I reached that point, I might as well take care of that now, and they went ahead and did the work.  Thanks again to the kind folks at Shara’s for helping take care of the Mazda.  On my last trip in 2005, they helped make sure my Neon was in tip-top shape (as tip-top a shape you can get a Neon to be), and I had no issues that whole trip.  I have even more confidence now with my newer Mazda, along with the good luck touch that comes from the guys at Shara’s.

Thanks to my friend Melissa, we had a dinner outing planned that night at Sakura (sushi) in Endicott.  Before that, I went to check out her new place and her boyfriend Ed’s new place as well, both within walking distance of my home.  An added bonus was getting to meet their dog, Niko, whose fun misadventures can be read here.  Niko is a well-behaved Shiba Inu dog who is very smart.  He even knows some unique ways to greet people:

Had the chance to walk with Niko, Melissa, and Ed.  Niko was so well behaved on a pretty decent walk for a little animal.  What a good dog.

Happy Family: Niko, Melissa, and Ed

Before we knew it, it was time to meet everybody for some sushi.  Just another great time sharing good food with some old friends.  Thanks, everybody, for coming out.  Looking forward to the fall when I’ll be back for some more good times.

Lyndsay and Raul. Raul is another buddy I've had since the Kindergarten days. Have fun on the honeymoon, you two.

Tonia and Me. Don't let Tonia's small stature fool you - she is a force to be reckoned with in dodgeball

Team Sushi

Later that night I met up with my buddies Brian and Giacomo, and we enjoyed some good conversation as Game 7 of the NBA Finals played in the background (lucky break this year, Lakers).  Giacomo is a guy I originally met when I spent three weeks working in the UK back in 2007.  His father, Gianni, was my host at the job site and quite possibly one of the kindest, most gregarious people you’d ever meet.  I still remember one of his many unique quotes:

“Variety is the spice of life.  What is the secret of your success, Joe?

Tabasco sauce.”

Gianni has a positive spirit that is hard to top, and his son Giacomo embodies that spirit, also.  Giac ended up moving to the U.S. not long after I met him in the UK, and we’ve since had several fun times hanging out, despite my usually fleeting presence in the area.

There's Giac "taking the pi$$"

I’ve been blessed to know some amazing people, be they from New York, other states, and even other countries.  Friday is my last full day in the area before the roadtrip continues.  I’m glad I’ve been here these past several days to reconnect with everybody.


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