USA: South, West, North, East, South

The City of Aventura

The City of Excellence

Miami-Dade County

Home of the Marlins, the Dolphins, the Heat

State of Florida

The Sunshine State

United States of America

July 6, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

On occasion I hear the refrain, “Jan, I can’t keep up with you!”

On occasion I say to myself, “Jan, I can’t keep up with you, either!”

I just completed a two week trip around the country…from Miami, Florida to Houston, Texas to Portland, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts to New York, New York.

In Miami, along with his wife Carrie and their young children Chloe, Maxwell and Myles, I joined the fortieth birthday celebration of my nephew Jason. It seems like it was just yesterday that I held him in my arms.

 In Houston I visited with my dear friends Dodie and Gary.  We made a day trip to Galveston.   I took lots of pictures of the colorful architectural gems in the historic downtown area and the residential Renaissance Zone. (Don’t miss these photos!)

At the Houston Museum of Natural Science we toured the Energy Exhibit (Hey, I’m in Houston.)  The Wiess Energy Hall explores the application of scientific concepts and advanced technology in the oil and gas industry.  We “rode” the vibrating “elevator” down the “shaft” to explore the drilling process.

I treated Dodie and Gary to lunch at Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Deli.  At first they were reluctant, but my friends were quite brave and tried a slice of tongue from my tongue and brisket combo sandwich.

My waistline began expanding thanks to Dodie’s Key Lime pie.  Dodie is from Ferriday, Louisiana (you ever heard of Jerry Lee Lewis, her neighbor?) but she fixes the pie like a native Floridian.

In Portland, for the very first time I met my cousin Jim Polson, his wife Betty and their children Jennifer, Sarah, Amanda, Michael and grandchildren.  Despite name changes and married names, we are all Polatscheks.  Jim and Betty were generous hosts.

Jim and I toured Costco (two new shirts), Fry’s Electronics (two new thumb drives), and the Columbia River Gorge (a new hat).  I took some pictures, especially of the falls, the Bonneville Dam and the lumber trucks.

My waistline continued its growth thanks to Betty’s superb cooking.

In Boston I slowed down a bit yet found the energy to stroll the Public Gardens, Beacon Hill and part of the Freedom Trail with my old friends, and kind hosts, Brooke and Larry.  I took a few pictures before the rains inundated the city.  We repaired to the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel for a glass of wine and a view of the harbor.

Larry’s bagels, and Sunday BBQ, and the Ben & Jerry’s added to……

I like to say that Larry and I knew each other before we were born.  Our mothers were friends in junior high school in Brooklyn and remained devoted lifelong friends.

In New York City and slowing down even further, I had dinner with my cousins (this time on my mother’s side) Linda and Betty Ann and their family.  Betty Ann baked a blueberry pie for the occasion.

Betty Ann and Linda grew up with the surname Leaf.  (My mother’s maiden name was Lifson.)  Can you imagine the shock of the kids around the dinner table, all now with sonorous American names, when I announced to them that they are all descended from Abraham Lifschitz of Grodno?

In the City, I also found a last bit of energy and had dinner with my cousin Jeffrey, his wife Madelene and their three grown children Jason, Jamie and Adam.  Dinner was at the El Rio Grande Mexican restaurant.  Jason downed two margaritas and I downed a couple of tacos, or were they enchiladas?   I never can remember the difference.

Thankfully, in NYC, my oldest friends Allen and Helga were generous hosts.  And thankfully, their refrigerator is stocked with healthful stuff, except for the English muffins and the beer and the Haagen-Dazs.

Despite delicious restaurant dinners of Indian and Greek food, my favorite meal in New York was with my friend and high school classmate Joseph Follick.  We met at the Dining Concourse in Grand Central Terminal where I downed a couple of Nathan’s Famous all beef kosher franks and a power-packed knish stuffed with kasha.  (Dodie, you can look it up on Google.)

I took not one picture in New York.   By the end of the USA visit, my engines were at Full Stop.

Along the way in the USA I met with former business colleagues, high school classmates and many dear friends including my ancient ancient history professor.  (I am proud to say I earned an A, a rare event in his class.)

Back in Miami my friend Gail invited me to a Fourth of July party.  From the thirtieth floor or her neighbor’s wrap around balcony, I watched the fireworks from a dozen nearby communities.  The closest, of course, was the Aventura display that climaxed in a colossal white fury.

At the party, everyone was my contemporary, so I decided to listen to their travel stories and not talk about mine. One woman, in her early days, was a private airplane pilot.  She spoke proudly of her first solo flight.  Her neighbor was a certain Mrs. Beech in Wichita, Kansas. 

An Israeli-American couple recently sold their business and took a 180 day journey around the world carrying only a backpack.  We compared notes on Istanbul and Salta, Argentina.

Please forgive me if I missed you on this trip.  Assuming my energy recovers to the level of “I can’t keep up with you,” I’ll be back to The States sometime soon.   Of course, if you have the energy, you are always welcome to “Come on Over.”

For now, I am back in the Miami area at my rented apartment.  Crashed!

Crashed, but busy.  I still have to complete my Travel Letters about my trip to Argentina in May! If I tire of this keyboard and this little screen, there’s a marvelous swimming pool about twenty paces from my front door. 

And if I get “antsy” – who knows where I might show up?

My friends in Bangkok, I’ll be home on August 2.

Keeping cool,


PS  I gained three kilos, about six and a half pounds!



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