I talked with Patty early this morning in the hallway of our hotel. She was on her way down to get coffee in the lobby. We are unsure what happened on this trip. I feel that deep down, somewhere in her subconscious, she had a feel for the magic we’d encounter. It was her concept, her idea to gather us together to do something that didn’t really even make sense…take four gals who didn’t even all know each other on a long road trip with her and her sister. It does NOT surprise me that Patty managed to find beauty and kindness in so many THINGS that we saw this past week, but I think even Patty did not know how the people we met would impact us. People gave to us fully. They shared their stories; they showed compassion. They GAVE to us.
We had a rather short drive to Victorville from Barstow this morning. Patty had heard from a guy named Delvin who had somehow found us through social media. He invited us to visit the California Route 66 Museum in Victorville. How could we turn that down?
Delvin met us in the parking lot even before Patti T had parked Sparky. He seemed to know us from the blog and offered to take this picture before we entered the museum:
The museum is terrific, and Delvin is truly proud of his affiliation. He fed us historical info and infused his love of the mother road and of his town of Victorville. He is grateful that the museum was established twenty years ago, and he regrets that so many of the old buildings in the town that lined the Route are now gone
We inserted a green pin on the visitor map to indicate Bradenton, our precious home. You’ll find our pin on the map there if you find yourself in Victorville. Patty told me later that Delvin asked her quietly if he could give her a hug. And it was a STRONG hug, she told me. I know she was right because Delvin gave me one of the stronger handshakes I’ve ever received.
We left Victorville for the next destination which will from here on out be called, “And that, my friends, is Marty Merritt.”
Marty was an old friend of Patty’s from Cardinal Mooney High School. Reportedly the nuns did not like to have Marty and Patty in the same class as they tended to get into trouble when near each other. They were both, in fact, named class clowns of the Class of 1980.
Marty and Patty had kept in touch a little bit in the past few years although they had not seen each other since high school thirty-six years ago. Marty lives an hour or two outside of Los Angeles. Patty did not know that Marty had contacted Jane to see about connecting with us while we were in California. He wanted to surprise Patty. He and Jane exchanged texts and even phone calls gearing up for the reunion. During one of the phone calls Jane felt she needed to address the elephant in the room. “Marty, I know you said you’re driving right now, are you alone?” He was. And our Jane then said, “Well, I’m sure you don’t remember this but we ‘had a moment’ back in high school at a party during your senior year.” Poor Marty had to admit that he did not remember our Janey who had been a freshman in high school, but he gallantly replied, “Well, then we have some unfinished business!” Well played, Marty.
More texts and contact during the past week between Marty and Jane meant that the four of us were soon brought in on the surprise. Marty suggested we meet for lunch as the Sixty Sixtahs came west from Victorille. All that was left was for the four of us to help add Glendora, the site of our proposed lunch, to our list of stops. A few days ago Trudi mentioned that her sister had recommended a stop in Glendora called Clubhouse 66 Restaurant and Bar. It sounded legit. Patty agreed.
We pulled up at lunch time expecting some of the americana that we’ve grown to expect during the past week on the road. Jane had received a text from Marty stating, “Just sit wherever the hostess tells you to sit.” That left the four of us wondering what he might have planned…what could it be?
We entered Clubhouse 66 and were promptly seated at a nice round table in the center of the room and near the bar. We settled in with our menus and ordered Route 66 soda. There was music playing, and we were unaware of the man standing facing the bar with his back to us. We were not unaware for long. We soon realized that he was swaying to the music…at first just as he was standing…but then he seemed to be moving more and more.
Matt, the restaurant manager, came over to the table and whispered to us that, “I’m sorry, that’s Dancin’ Ted. He comes in here sometimes when his wife is out of town, I hope he isn’t bothering you?” Well, now we were absolutely paying attention.
You can see why, I’m sure.
Patty joked about going over to dance with him…and we laughed. Patty stepped up to go to the bathroom….and Dancin’ Ted circled in for the kill. And, of course, our Patty was up for the challenge…but watch what happened when she finally realized that Dancing’ Ted was really Marty Merritt…
And that shirt that he’s wearing has the yearbook picture of the two Class Clowns of 1980. He brought Patty a shirt of her own. And those two knuckleheads reenacted the photo.
The lunch was hilarious from beginning to end. Marty was purely delightful. He pretended to flirt with Janey recalling their unfinished business…and he told Patty that, “We should have married, we would have been divorced by now.” We laughed till our cheeks hurt.
Only Patty would have a friend from high school go to such lengths to share his unwavering love…
As we climbed back into Sparky after hugs and many many more laughs, Patty said with a chuckle, “And that, my friends, is Marty Merritt.” It sure was.
And now we travelled toward our final destination, the end of Route 66, Santa Monica Pier. We arrived at about 5:30pm eight days after we met Sparky.
We made our way down to the water. We had made it to the Pacific Ocean. Two thousand, Two hundred and Forty-eight miles of road. Together. With Patty. Because of Patty.
Toe in water, baby.
We asked a man to take a picture of us at the water’s edge. Doug is from Poughkeepsie, NY and is just visiting Santa Monica with his wife and two daughters. As usual, we took the time to chat and trade stories. Doug and Marcy have suffered loss from cancer like so many of us have. Most recently Doug lost his father to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Marcy thinks it’s so wonderful to see someone like Patty who is fighting SO HARD and doing a trip like this.
We walked back up to our hotel. We passed a wedding. We passed children scooping sand. We passed someone in the lobby who asked about our flat Ellen and flat Melissa heads. “Are you guys going on the Ellen Show?” they asked.
“YES!” said Patty.
Tonight we share a few words from Jean:
July 17, 2016
I’m sad to think about this being our last day on the road. This trip has been SO much more than just a girlfriend trip with our beloved Patty!
When I think back to discussions with Patty & Jane about doing this
(in a motor home!) and about how much fun it would be, it seemed like nothing more than a fun discussion. It has turned out to be more of a spiritual journey filled with love, friendship, fellowship and hope.
A wise man once taught me a life lesson “Act, don’t react” he said. I feel like Patty embodies this philosophy in her life. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, she’s a very special person with a very special family! She rarely complains, and even in her low moments when you can tell she doesn’t feel well, she can muster up a joke, a story, or a line that makes you smile! Cancer has thrown her some major curve balls, but she continues to act, not react and to carry on with so much strength and courage. I think she finds inspiration not only in her family, friends, and music, but also in total “strangers” whom she now calls friends! “Team Patty” has connected with and touched so many people near and far, but this trip has been like an explosion of that reach! We have encountered so many wonderful people on this journey across our great country who’ve shown us kindness & love, shared heartfelt stories, and offered Patty prayers and well wishes. She brings hope and inspiration to so many – including us- her loving Sixtahs!
I feel so fortunate and blessed to have shared this time with these amazing women and with all of you following us on our journey. In the end, it’s all about the memories. Let’s keep making them.
Tomorrow we will be traveling home and will not be posting. We plan to post another blog on Monday night. Thank you so much for following along with us on this great adventure. It’s not over.