When I returned to Seattle from London Heathrow, Jim was working as a salesman for a Mercedes-Benz dealership and asked me to find some new Mercedes-Benz diesels for him to sell, as they were in high demand back in 1979. They sold like hot cakes and the dealership couldn’t keep enough on the lot. So I grabbed a phone book and borrowed an office in the dealership and started working the phones and calling other dealers. In an hour or two I had found two new Mercedes-Benz diesel sedans in New York City, NY, and San Antonio, TX, that were available; as well as a red Mercedes sports coupe in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Jim and the dealership arranged to purchase them and I set out to drive them back to Seattle. The trip was a “bare bones” adventure for me, and I only had my basic transportation expenses reimbursed, but regardless – I was game for a new adventure.
I went down to the Greyhound bus station and began a three day bus odyssey, from Seattle, WA, to New York City, NY. I had never taken a coast-to-coast bus ride before and thought of it as a new adventure and life experience; reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s two songs, “Homeward Bound” and “America.” What a natural and authentic way to see America I thought at the time. So off I went on a new cross-country adventure, just like stepping into a movie scene. On the way to New York City, I rode the bus with a guy named Benny who was also traveling from Seattle to New York City. He was originally from New York City and was going to see his sister Diana in the Bronx; and later on they were flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to visit their mother, Mrs. Martinez. Benny had signed up for the Air Force’s delayed enlistment program, and was visiting relatives before leaving for boot camp to begin his enlistment. Benny and I talked about SCUBA diving and he invited me to visit them in Puerto Rico – which was just after the time I expected to be back in Seattle with the first Mercedes. Of course I said yes; as here was another great opportunity for me to see the world.
Once we arrived in New York City, Benny “knew the ropes” having grown up there, so he gladly showed me around the city. We rode the subway and walked through Little Puerto Rico before going down to Times Square to wander all around and see the sights. It was my first and only time in New York City, and without Benny as my “travel guide” I wouldn’t have had an idea of where to go or what to see on a shoestring budget. When we finished the tour I told Benny that I’d see him in San Juan on the arranged date, and then I went over to the Mercedes-Benz dealership where I picked up the new Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan. I drove the car straight through to Grand Blanc, MI, to see my parents and stopped there overnight. It was my first time home in two years, ever since I left on my original bike trip around the United States, and I enjoyed my short visit home. Of course, I had to debate my father on the merits of foreign cars over the GM products where he worked; and had to point out the finer aspects of gently closing the door of a Mercedes-Benz, instead of slamming the door closed. The discussion remained civil without our coming to any agreements on the subject of foreign cars, and everyone seemed to survive my first overnight visit back home in two years. The next day I left for Seattle, and decided to take a northern route that was different from the one the Greyhound bus had taken; so that I could see “new and undiscovered” territory on my way back to Seattle.
After returning to Seattle, I flew out on an L-1011 with Eastern Air Lines from Seattle, WA, to Atlanta, GA; and then on to San Juan to vacation with Benny, Diana, their mother Mrs. Martinez and their relatives. Mrs. Martinez lived just a block or two from the ocean in Levittown, just west of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I kept a journal of my trip, so later in my autobiography I’ll post the day-to-day events as they took place. I have a few color photos of Levittown for this post and then an entire series of black and white photographs from Old San Juan to show you next. So here are my pictures from Puerto Rico, where I had a great time and the opportunity to learn more about the world. Enjoy! 🙂