Thursday night and Friday were the official opening of the next stage of our trip - Family and Friends. And everyone we saw in Ohio yesterday passed the official Kennedy friendship test. That's the one where we don't stay in touch for many years, but we still like you a lot and hope that you still like us, too, and completely ignore the fact we haven't stayed in touch when we see you.
We drove to Akron from South Bend to catch up with Cathy, Linda's college roommate. Despite distances, time and not hearing from us for years at a time, Cathy and LK remain great friends. You would swear they talked to each other every day. That's them in the picture on top.
Cathy married Steve well after we moved to Australia, and our night at their house was a great chance to get to know him, as well as their gorgeous girls Beth and Marne who now officially join Lily as three of the prettiest girls in the world.
We arrived on a tough day for the family, as they had some bad news that morning. But you would hardly know it from Cathy's hugs and laughs and stories. We felt so perfectly at home and enjoyed our time with them immensely.
And I can proudly report that this blog is performing public service functions. Cathy had read about Amber Alerts for LK, and even though she and Steve prefer wine to spirits they had a large bottle of Johnny Walker ready to prevent amber meltdown. As I said, great friends. Can't wait to see them again.
From their house, it was only about 40 minutes to drive down to catch up with Linda's cousin Jo. And as a bonus, LK's Aunt Phyllis drove over, too. A mini-family reunion with two great ladies.
The family hosts an annual reunion, and part of it is a golf tournament at the local course. Despite the fact that I have not played in it for about a quarter of a century, Phyllis cheerily reminded me of the time they were making videos of the first drives, and I set some sort of record by placing my ball squarely in the middle of a nearby bush about 10 yards away.
While LK and Jo shared the laugh, I kept waiting for Phyllis to remember something positive about me. I was even thinking of asking her to work on it, but I recalled Goober Pyle's great compliment to his date, "For a fat girl, you don't sweat much," and decided not to push my luck.
Jo has had a fantastic career and had dozens of things to catch us up on - including daughter Gretchen's wedding earlier this year, Jo's career in recent years and how she met her husband Mike, whom we got to meet for the first time. We could only stay a short time after he came home, but he's a really nice guy and the good news is that they will be coming to a meeting in Sydney in a year or so. We will get to show them Oz as it's meant to be seen.
We left Canton about 4:30 and drove to Pittsford, outside of Rochester New York. We are now at LK's Mom's place. Quick catchups last night with Peg, Sandy, Dave, Jordan and Christopher. Then a good sleep and - best of all - no need to drive anywhere today. Getting awfully tired of being in the car so many hours each day. Even worse, LK and Honor the GPS are not getting along well.