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60/20 Tour: Americana, Cool Jersey Partners and It’s a Small World

UMC Collingswood and Aristacare

What a weekend!  Starting at 9 PM in Milwaukee,  Leslie and I geared up for a long mile journey over the weekend with the goal of ending up in Asbury Park Sunday to pay homage to “The Boss”.  I could spend countless paragraphs just talking about our weekend journey. I won’t get into all the minutiae, but what a cool country we’re fortunate to live in!  We drove all night to Toledo,  getting in at 5 am (for some reasons those drives don’t bother me; I zone out into music and think about things meaningful to me).  We spent Saturday afternoon at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland,  a reflective experience to celebrate musicians that have had had an impact over the course of my 60 years. Then we cruised to the pillar of progressive culture in our country –  a demolition derby at a county fair in a remote county in Ohio! The whole fair atmosphere drifted somewhere between being in a Springsteen ballad or a Stephen King novel; we were truly in Americana. On Sunday we drove by Williamsport PA and saw the Little League World Series Stadium, followed by a long cruise to get to Asbury Park and the Stone Pony, where a lot of Springsteen folklore was hatched. Great weekend! Through this entire trip, I have thoroughly enjoyed completely zoning out of any political news stations. It is so liberating to leave all of the finger-pointing and teeth-gnashing behind and simply experience and enjoy the country through the sights and sounds of diners, country fairs, beat-up baseball diamonds, and nice people that make our country what it is. I may keep that tradition up when I head back to reality in mid-November.

On Tuesday we headed to Jersey to see two of our longtime partners in the state.  Larry Carlson,  CEO of United Methodist Communities and his crew had the party ready to rumble.  I’m thrilled to be able to get Larry, along with Mary Kemper, CEO of the United Methodist Association and Jim McCracken, LeadingAge state director in New Jersey, in the van for a spin. We also did two great resident cruises, one with a lady who dyed her hair different shades of blue to stay vibrant (the epitome of not having age slow down your ambitions) and another with a resident who (for lack of a better way to explain it) got a little frisky with yours truly.  May have to get creative with the editing there!

Then off to Aristacare, where CEO Renee Pruzansky had a show waiting for us. One of the floors in this community had been converted to provide the feel of Indian culture to a group of Indian residents, and it blew me away.  At least 20 women, all in full traditional clothing,  sang Happy Birthday songs to me and the company in Indian. The commitment to honoring and supporting another country’s culture with this set up is a simple concept,  but details are what make or break a program like this.  A whole gang of residents wanted to cruise and croon, so we set up shop outside the van. We didn’t drive anywhere; we just sang. This will be one of the best clips. It felt great to honor another culture.

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