Saturday, June 12, 2004

Home Again

Dan and I got up at 6:30 and headed over to the rail trail. Dan decided it was too cold to walk, so he waited in the car while I went for a short run. I saw two cardinals, some mallards and a rabbit at Lock 12. We had coffee and bagels at Greeenwich Coffee on the way home, then went back to the house. I showered, dressed, finished my packing and tidied the room. I visited with Charles for as long as I could, then left the blue bottle from Thomaston and a card of the Quincy Library for John and Susan. Then we headed out.

We stopped at Meriden and visited with Grandma. I told her I'd bring a cake next year for her 99th birthday. She seemed a little unclear that I was her granddaughter and as always I felt bad leaving her, since every time could be the last.

We got to Providence by 2:00 and turned in our car. Then they x-rayed our bags and thoroughly investigated my jars of blueberry jelly from Maine. Good to know our airport security is keeping us safe. I hadn't even known blueberry jelly was dangerous!

The flight to Philadelphia was on time and uneventful. We got stuck an hour in Philly while they tried to figure out which plane to put us on. But finally we got a plane and headed for home. I took the window seat and got to watch thunderstorms below us while a clear sky and moon shone brightly above us.

It's always a bit of a culture shock to come home to Houston after being in a part of the country that tries to show some respect for beauty and history. This glass and concrete city has no soul and even while I enjoy the comforts of my own home and routines, I always pine for what I've lost by choosing to continue living here-- that sense of connection with the past and with nature that I get in other parts of the country.

Friday, June 11, 2004

John Adams Homestead

My plan was to go for an early run, but I slept in a bit instead. I finally got up at 7:30, skipped the run and Dan and I left the house at 9. We ran a couple errands and went by the home to see Grandma. She wasn't in her room, so we figured she was getting her hair done or something. We couldn't wait so we headed toward Quincy at 10.

We were able to visit the cemetary in town and catch the 1:15 tour and saw John Adams' birthplace, first home with Abigail, and his later house in town. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and I enjoyed what they had to say, even though I don't really care for group tours in general. I don't like having so many people around because it makes it hard to soak up the ambiance of a place, not to mention that you only have a few seconds to look at any one thing because there's always someone else breathing down your neck wanting to look at it, too.

After the tour we bought some gifts and headed for home. We had considered touring the church and seeing Adams' grave, but there was a Reagan memorial service going on and it was too crowded. So we headed back to Connecticut. We stopped in Middletown for Indian food on the way, and it was okay but not as good as the place in New London and certainly not as good as the now-closed Bombay Spice in Mystic.

After dinner we hurried to Hammonasset Beach to catch the sunset. We arrived in time and the sunset was lovely, but there were so many gnats that we didn't stay long. So we went home and visited with John a bit. Then we made a quick trip to the store for food to eat on the plane the next day, and then Dan turned in while I waited up for my cousin Charles to arrive. He was supposed to be coming in late from Chicago, but John and I waited and waited and finally went to bed.
Home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams Posted by Hello
Sunset at Hamonassett Beach Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Cheshire, Again

We indulgently slept in until 9:30. The weather was cool and rainy, so there was little point in getting up early. Dan made panckakes and we saw a goose and her goslings paddling across the water, but they were gone before we could get to the dock for a closer look.

I spent the morning working on a puzzle while Dan read one of his new books from the bookstore in Mystic. Later we had a nice lunch of New Boston Inn leftovers. After lunch we packed and headed back to Connecticut. I always feel a little sad when we leave the lake house. It's such a peaceful, special place for me. I always leave hoping desperately it's not the last time, but knowing that eventually it will have to be.

For some reason I was exhausted and once we were home it was all I could do to bring my things up stairs and pack the things we no longer needed in a box to ship home. We went to the UPS store then returned with our minds on a nap. But Susan showed up and we chatted while Dan got online and looked up information about the John Adams homestead. Then just as I was heading upstairs for a catnap, Jeff called. Dinner plans were made and I accepted Susan's offer of a cup of coffee in lieu of a nap.

We met Jeff and John at the Old Mill restauarant. We had a very nice meal, discussing medicine, insurance and... well, chickens, among other things. John and Jeff told some very funny stories about their childhood and then bickered hilariously over directions for Jeff to get back to his hotel. Susan added her version of directions to the mix and Dan and I were practically in hysterics. What made it all the funnier was that it was nearly a straight shot to the hotel from the restaurant. But with all the contradictory information he was given, Jeff was lucky not to have ended up in Nova Scotia.

Dan and I went to the grocery store on the way home and then stayed up a bit visiting with John and Susan, who were planning Susan's departure for Stanford in the morning. Their youngest boy was graduating! Finally everyone went to bed except me. I stayed up on the computer for a bit before finally turning in around eleven.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Lake House

Dan and I got up early and packed our overnight bags for the lake house. We stopped in on Grandma on the way and she was alert and chatty. Then we bought some groceries, went back to Cheshire for the things we had forgotten, then headed up to the Berkshires.

The weather was beautiful-- warm and sunny with a cool breeze. We ate salad and grapes on the patio then took the canoe out. After that we went swimming and I finally got to try out my wetsuit. I had a great time swimming around, trying to catch fish by chasing them through the clear water. Afterwards I picked and ate some wild strawberries on the shore.

After a shower, we went for a long walk. We got a bit lost on the winding hilly roads, but eventually figured things out and found our way home again. (No, Dan, you cannot reach the lake by walking away from the lake. You are not Christopher Columbus.)

After a short nap we went for dinner at the New Boston Inn. The food was wonderful as always, but we were disappointed to learn that the place had been sold because the owners were getting a divorce. Halfway through dinner we moved from the dining room to the pub to watch part of Reagan's funeral on the bar TV, then we took our dessert and coffee outside on the lawn. As we were enjoying the last of our coffee we could see storm clouds moving in over the mountains. So we paid up and hurried home to watch the storm from the dock. It seemed to move slowly at first, with lots of distant thunder and flashes of lightning. And then it was there, a line moving across the lake and wind blowing the smell of rain to where we stood. We hurried up the path back to the house and spent a cozy evening reading and drinking tea while we listened to the rain.
One of the roads near the lake house Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Quiet Times In Cheshire

I got up early and went for a run on the rail trail. My quads and hamstrings were so tight and painful I was glad I ahdn't pushed any harder at the Covered Bridges race. After my run I bought some coffee to take home and we had the house to ourselves. We went to see Grandma later that morning and she was very talkative, on top of everything. She definitely has her good and bad days. Then we went back to Cheshire, bought chicken/avocado wraps and had a picnic at Sleeping Giant park in Hamden. After we ate, we walked up the easy Tower trail, then went home and took a nap.

After a short nap I went and got a massage, which helped my legs a little, although it wasn't as good as what Mary does back home. I really need to find a money tree so I can take my massage therapist with me when I go on vacation! Then Dan and I fixed ourselves up a bit and met John and Jeff for dinner. At dinner John did most of the talking, as usual, while Jeff watched him with a bemused look on his face. Susan showed up a bit later, joining us for coffee and dessert.

Back at home I showed Susan our pictures and heard about her Vassar reunion. She had a good time but seemed sad. "Everyone is getting old," she said. She seemed to have a lot on her mind and we were all tired, so we went to bed early.
Tower at Sleeping Giant Posted by Hello

Monday, June 07, 2004

Home To Cheshire

We got up and had our last-ever big breakfast at Kay's. Kay's daughter and granddaughter joined us and asked lots of nosy questions. They weren't trying to be rude, but they sure weren't good at picking up on hints. After we ate, we started loading up the car. Kay got a bit sentimental as we stood outside making our good byes, but her daughter showed up acting goofy just in time to ruin it.

So we went to the Post Office, mailed out our postcards, got a few things we needed at the Brownsville store and headed south toward Connecticut. I drove so Dan could enjoy the countryside and criticize my driving. By now we hadn't had Indian food in over a week and we were in serious withdrawal, so we headed to New London to check out a little place one of my online friends had told me about. We arrived right at the end of their lunch rush, so I felt a bit obliged to hurry my meal and overtip. But the food was great and even though we boxed some of it for the next day, we ate it as soon as we got to Cheshire.

In Cheshire we took a nap then walked for an hour on the rail trail. I took Dan to Lock 12, which he hadn't seen before. It's a lovely restored canal lock and is as much fun for the old technology as for the ducks. After our walk we did a bit of shopping at the Super Stop & Shop, including buying a fan for our room, which was a bit stuffy due to the unexpected "heat wave" in Connecticut and the lack of air conditioning. Next we picked up some salads at Cheshire Pizza and went home to eat. John was home by this point but went to bed early. Dan and I stayed up late doing laundry, reading and uploading pictures to the laptop.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Race Day! Thankfully there was no sign of the predicted rain. It was warm and sunny for the first time in the four years I had done this race. I dressed, went in to breakfast and tried to eat light, but Dan's waffles looked so good I couldn't resist having one myself on top of the bowl of oatmeal I had already eaten.

Dan drove me to the race start-- quite an indulgence, since we usually parked and rode the bus like everyone else. Alone waiting at the start, I busied myself with my timing chip, race number, water, etc. I visited with the other runners, went for a walk up one of the ski slopes where I saw clovers as big as pansies, and then I finally went for a short warmup run.

The race started okay, but I could tell right away that the past week of hiking had taken a lot out of me. My legs felt like lead weights before we even got to Woodstock, just four miles away. It was hard to let go of my desire to better last year's time, but the pain it would've put me in wasn't worth it. I was on vacation, after all. So I just slowed down a bit and tried to enjoy the race. Two little girls came out to watch us from the back of a spotted pony. Horses ran along their paddock fences as if they would join us. Bagpipers and barbershop quartets serenaded us. Dan met me at the Woodstock bridge where I was feeling a little nauseous from my big breakfast and I told him if I didn't feel better by Taftsville, I was quitting. He nodded like he understood, but I think he knew me well enough to know I would have to have a broken leg to stop. Sure enough, by Taftsville it seemed silly to quit. My stomach had settled down and by now the race was over halfway done. Dan met me at the Taftsville bridge and said he'd see me at the finish. I continued on. Miles nine through eleven were the worst because there was less to see and fewer distractions from my tired, heavy legs. But then like magic we were at mile twelve, with the finish line just over a mile away. I was given an excellent incentive to pick up the pace when the mile twelve entertainer launched into an off-key rendition of "Yesterday." It was a toss-up which was worse, the choice of song or the singer.

So I pushsed on through for another three quarters of a mile. After that we could start hearing the crowd at the finish line. It's always easy once you can hear the crowd. Dan was at the finish and the announcer even called my name. I was disappointed with my time, but that's how things work out sometimes. At least they still had small finisher shirts available.

So after I got my shirt and water, I met up with Dan in the post-race area. I grabbed some yogurt and Dan found some cookies for me and a bagel for himself. We sat in the grass and ate, then found the car and went back to Kay's where I showered and dressed. Then we drove over to East Dorset for dinner. After we ate and hung out a bit, we headed back toward Kay's, taking a detour into Woodstock. As before, nothing was open, but we walked around a bit.

Then we went back to our B&B where Dan crashed while I ate brownies, drank tea and read the New York Times. Ronald Reagan had just died and they had a lot of stories about him. Kay's family upstairs made quite a ruckus, but they finally settled down and I went to bed.
Finishing the Covered Bridges race Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Hanging Out In Vermont

The next morning after one of Kay's overly generous breakfasts, Dan and I went hiking on Mt. Ascutney. We tried a different trail than the one we went on the previous year and ended up at the site of the "Steam Donkey" -- an old steam engine left on the mountainside when the quarries shut down.

Then we hiked up to the summit, sat on a rock and had some snacks. A butterfly decided to make me its home, but this ultimately proved to be an unsustainable relationship.

After three hours on the mountain we descended and dropped by the annual pow-wow in Windsor. In previous years we had always managed to be too busy to drop by, so we decided to make a point of it this year since Kay had always urged us to go. As it turned out, Kay was working the ticket booth which was a good thing since they were only accepting cash, which we didn't have. She let us in on a promise to pay later and we hung out, looked at some crafts and watched some dances.

But we were hungry so we eventually left and drove over to Quechee where we had a nice lunch at Firestone's restaurant. Then we got some ice cream and hiked down to the water at Quechee Gorge.

After all that we decided we would skip the pre-race pasta supper so we bought a few groceries instead and stopped by the Masonic Lodge where the supper was being held just to see if they had any good merchandise for sale. They did! In fact, they had a small sports expo going on, the first time they'd ever done such a thing. Dan had decided not to run, so he bought a commemorative shirt to make up for the finisher's shirt he wouldn't be getting the next day. Then we strolled around Woodstock a bit. It's a cute town, but things sure close early! Even the coffee shop was closed, to our disappointment. So after a long pleasant walk through town we got in the car and went back to the inn. I set out our Seal Cove goat cheese from Maine, our Monhegan House bread, our Island Inn hummus and some cream cheese and jelly. We made tea from Kay's stash and had a very nice evening snack. We tried to stay up for a bit after that, but we were tired and went to bed.
"Steam Donkey" on Mt Ascutney Posted by Hello
Pow Wow in Vermont Posted by Hello
Quechee Gorge Posted by Hello
Dam at Quechee Posted by Hello

Friday, June 04, 2004

Shakers and Bikers

I got up early, dressed and headed out for a run, leaving Dan and the dog asleep in our comfortable room. The roads were nice, but with very steep hills that made for a difficult run for me. In just thirty minutes I managed to find two small family cemetaries that appeared to be quite old. It was interesting to see such a mix of old and new houses, with these cemetaries interspersed among them.

As I finished up my run, I found Talley the terrier waiting for me outside the barn. She trotted up to me with a small stick which I obligingly threw for her to chase. Not only did she retrieve it, but she shook it, bit it and pretty well destroyed it. I believe terriers were once used to hunt rats and other vermin. Good choice. They're good at killing sticks, at any rate. Then I went inside and found our hosts in the kitchen. I made the mistake of mentioning that Talley had slept with us and they started telling her what a bad dog she was. I assured them we had enjoyed the company, but I felt bad for getting that sweet dog in trouble.

I showered and dressed for breakfast, which was served on an antique trestle table in front of the old cooking fireplace. Breakfast was a pear in currant sauce, fried potatoes, bacon and a "Bismark," an odd but delicious omlette-like thing with jelly. After breakfast we reluctantly packed and headed out. I would've liked to have spent a couple days there, relaxing in the country, but it just wasn't in our plans.

We headed over to Canterbury Shaker Village where we went on a couple of tours. I had thought there wasn't much a tour guide could tell me about the Shakers that I didn't already know, but of course I was wrong. Among other things, he did a little Shaker song and dance for us. Weird, but cool. There wasn't as much to see at Canterbury as at the Hancock village, but what there was was excellent.

We tried to get some snacks and water at their little restauarant before we left, but there were several buses' worth of schoolkids overrunning everything. Luckily there was another Shaker shop by the parking lot, with cheese, herbs, etc. They also had water and cookies, which was all I really wanted anyway.

It was a long drive to Kay's in Brownsville, but things became noticably prettier once we had crossed the state line into Vermont. Kay was out when we arrived but had left a note and brownies. She came in soon after we had brought in all our bags and proceeded to tell us that she was closing the inn soon. The mortgage was paid and she wanted to devote her remaining active years to worthy causes. Her daughter, son-in-law and their kids would be moving in with her and were already living in temporary quarters in the upstairs part of the house. We were disappointed to hear she was closing, but it sounded like she was happy about it. It's always nice when someone you know gets to live their dreams.

Then we went to East Dorset for dinner, went to the local cemetary and talked to some bikers on Harleys. Then we came back to Kay's, made some tea and watched the stars from the front yard until we were sleepy and it was time for bed.
Shaker meeting house at Canterbury Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 03, 2004

New Hampshire

We woke up to gray skies again. Dan didn't care to go to the beach in such weather, so we slept in a bit, then lingered over coffee and bagels in the common room. Then we finished packing and hauled our luggage up the hill to the dock. I insisted on carrying the heavier pieces, so as not to undo all the work Dan had had done on his back the day before. Besides, I needed the exercise.

We had a bit of a dilemma with the remaining hummus we had bought, since they had given it to us in restaurant crockery. With only a few minutes before we had to board the ferry I ran to the only place on the island open at that hour that had lidded coffee cups that the hummus could go into. Then I returned the bowls to the Island Inn and made it back to the dock just in time. Dan asked if all that dashing around had been worth it. Of course it was. The hummus was mine, the bowls weren't, and those nice people had trusted me to do the right thing. I sure wasn't leaving the island with anything that wasn't mine.

The boat ride was uneventful, but this time the unhappy passengers were a cat and a toddler. We saw no seals on the ride back, unfortunately.

Back on the mainland, we bought a few necessaries at the general store and a few souvenirs at the gift shop. Then we headed to Thomaston where we put gas in the car and did our laundry at the laundromat. The washer didn't rinse very well, but we didn't have time to run it twice. While we waited for everything to dry I browsed the antique shop next door and picked up a cute cobalt glass ink bottle. Then I searched the vicinity for a restroom and got some ice for our cooler. By now the laundry was dry and we loaded everything back into the car and headed south.

At first the route was much like the one we had traveled to get there earlier in the week, but we soon turned toward New Hampshire. I had expected New Hampshire to be rather like Vermont, so I was disappointed to find it more built up on the roadsides and not as quaint and pretty.

We took a detour off our route to the B&B to check out a place billed as "America's Stonehenge." What we found was a lot of small gray stones in a forest more mosquito-infested than Houston after a tropical storm has blown through. The mosquitos were so aggressive it was hard to really appreciate anything we were seeing, so we soon returned to the visitor center and bought a book about it instead. It was late anyway, and we were still far from our B&B.

We finally arrived at our B&B-- accurately billed as a working horse farm. As soon as we pulled up the welcome commitee, a Jack Russell terrier, came trotting up the path to greet us and lead us to our host. We were given a tour of the house-- a meticulously restored early 1700s farm house full of original antiques. Our room even had Blue Willow china and Shaker chairs. The door closed with an iron latch instead of a doorknob. The only thing modern, from the ceiling beams to the stenciled entryway floor was our bathroom, which had a heated tile shower and brass sink. After we unloaded the car we went for a walk around the grounds.

Our hostess was in the barn saddling a horse for a workout and Dan talked horses with her a little bit. After we checked everything out, we decided to go find a place for dinner, since country places close early. We were disappointed to find that the place recommended by our host offered mostly fried foods. Dan had some fried scallops while I played it safe with a grilled chicken salad, no dressing. We had tapioca and cookies for dessert. It was hard for me to resist buying some cookies to take back to the B&B with us, but I managed it somehow.

Back at the inn we went for a walk and tried to find the innkeeper's dock on the lake, but couldn't locate it in the dark. Then Dan went inside to relax while I walked a bit more, enjoying the quiet countryside. Then I went inside, thinking I would do a bit of jumprope on the enclosed patio before bed, but I got drawn into a conversation in the parlor instead. The innkeepr and a British guest were discussing a range of topics, from Shakers to experiences in Eastern Europe under Communism. We got into a long discussion about third world poverty and the next thing we all knew it was after midnight. Dan had already gone to bed and I joined him, as did our terrier friend who was so sweet and insistent that I let her join us on the bed after sternly telling her that she had to be good. As if she understood me completely, she hopped up between us, curled up and went to straight to sleep, not moving once the whole night.
Horses at our inn Posted by Hello
Our bedroom at a New Hampshire inn Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Rainy Island Day

We woke up to overcast skies which quickly turned into a cold drizzle. After the previous year's poor weather we had hoped for sunshine, but no such luck. We went next door for breakfast in the common room, a rather spartan affair compared to the other places we had stayed. I had cream cheese and jelly on a multigrain bagel, coffee and a banana.

After breakfast we walked up the road to Monhegan House to get Dan signed up for a massage, since his back was bothering him. Then we set off for a short hike that turned into three hours over some difficult, rocky trails. We got a bit lost a few times since the trails are so poorly marked. But you can never be too lost on an island only three miles long, so we always found our way again quickly. We saw some seals playing off the shore and watched them for a long time. They looked like they were having a great time, bobbing, splashing and chasing each other around.

After we got back to town I picked up our hummus and we had a lunch of hummus, goat cheese and crackers. It was kind of funny when I picked up the hummus because the girl at the counter wasn't sure what to charge me, so she just let me take it and I could come back and pay later. It's a very fine thing to be trusted-- something that we certainly lack in our modern urban lives. Then again, where was I going to go? It's not like I could just skip town, absconding with two bowls of hummus.

After lunch Dan went to his massage appointment and I took care of a few errands. I paid for the hummus, bought some more crackers, browsed the town's limited trinket offerings and ate a thoroughly decadent cookie that nonetheless had no calories since no one actually saw me eat it. Then I went exploring up a road by Monhegan House. The road took me up a hill and past a house with some great carvings out front.

I continued past where the road ended and down a trail through a meadow until it was time to turn around and get Dan. I found him wandering outside Monhegan House in a state of such bliss that I ran inside and asked if there were any other massage appointments available that day, but there were none. Oh well. So I took Dan to see the yard art I'd just found and we continued along up the road to see what else was there. We were accosted along the way by a very friendly Golden Retriever which ran out of a gate and laid a tennis ball at our feet, eager to play. Dan threw the ball for it for awhile, but then we got tired of the game and continued along the trail. Instead of going into the meadow, we took a different trail that led us to an amazing cliff with combers I could've watched all day.

We hung out there for awhile, then retraced our steps and went to Lobster Cove for a bit. It was starting to get dark and rainy again, so we didn't stay long and hurried back up the hill to Monhegan House. It was a little early, but the dining room was open so we went in. I had a cup of white bean soup and some pasta with pesto and zucchini. We had lemon cake and coffee for dessert. But just as the previous year, what was really amazing about our meal was the bread. It sounds silly, but Monhegan House has the best bread in the world! We gushed over it so much the waiter brought us a big loaf of it to take with us. I don't know if he was trying to shut us up or was just tired of going back for more, but we were grateful. The chef even came out to talk to us and after learning about all my years in the restaurant business he said I could have a job there any time. Don't tempt me, buddy! Finally, Dan and I had a nice conversation with the couple at the next table. They told us they had been coming to Monhegan for 50 years! Hey, I love the place too, but in 50 years I would think you could pretty much do everything that can be done on the island at least 50 times over.

It had stopped raining and was colder now, so we went back to the apartment and changed into warmer clothes. Then we checked our email at the library, blew off going to the lighthouse and spent the evening in the common room looking at books and working on a jigsaw puzzle.
Tree art on Monhegan Posted by Hello
More Monhegan art Posted by Hello
A cliff on Monhegan Island Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Monhegan Island

We slept in until 8:00, having considered and rejected the idea of getting up earlier and going back to the beach. We had an hour until breakfast, so we packed and got ready to head to Port Clyde. Breakfast was in the formal dining room and we got to meet some other guests staying at the inn-- a young, devoutly Christian couple who seemed a bit odd for reasons other than the fact that the girl did not eat. Things got even stranger after they left, though. Our hostess started telling us about her Himalayan adventures and how Boothbay is situated on some sort of spiritually optimal magnetic median. Well, it is a peaceful place, but magnetic?

Our hostess went on to tell us about a dove nesting on the third floor balcony, so we went to go see it. It was a sweet thing, but I don't know how it was planning to manage the heavy tourist season, since the balcony was part of the priciest guest room in the house.

So we finished packing, loaded the car and checked out. We left the car at the inn for a little while and walked back into town where Dan bought me a red fleece jacket I had seen and liked the previous day. I believe that if you still want something twenty four hours later, you should always get it if you can afford it. We then mailed some postcards, got some cash and browsed at a little bookstore before heading back to the car.

Now we were off to Thomaston! We had a little time to kill before we needed to head to Port Clyde so we checked out the Henry Knox museum. The museum was a well done reproduction of Knox's home, Montpelier. It was interesting and I learned a lot, although it was unfortunate that the house was a reproduction and not the original. It's amazing that we've managed to forget Knox, considering how much he did for the American Revolution. The reconstructed home contained a lot of original pieces, including a cabinet that supposedly had once belonged to Marie Antoinette that Knox picked up in France after their Revolution.

Next we were off to Port Clyde to catch the ferry to Monhegan. While we were waiting Dan made friends with two female cyclists, one of whom was an artist with plans to do some painting on the island. After I bought our ferry tickets, we all had lunch together in the general store.

Dan and the ladies had hot dogs and pizza while I had yogurt and an apple. With all the decadent goodies available on the island, I was saving my stomach! After we ate, Dan and his friends checked out a military sea/land vehicle beached nearby.

And then it was time to get on the ferry. We saw a lot of seals on the ride over, which was fun. The ferry ride was choppy but otherwise uneventful for all of us except a timid greyhound who didn't like it a bit. Then after we docked, the poor thing was afraid to get off the boat because the ramps made him nervous.

It was great to be back on Monhegan. We hauled our luggage up the hill to our B&B and checked into our apartment. Unlike the rooms in the main house, we had a heater of our very own-- a good thing when you're a Southerner in Maine! Since it was late in the afternoon I made a quick trip to the grocery store, then Dan and I went for a walk at Lobster Cove. We spent a lot more time investigating the shipwreck than last year and it was all very interesting. I wish I knew more about it. After we had exhausted the possibilities of the shipwreck we wandered around on the rocks for a bit, enjoying the cairns and rock sculptures until about 6 pm.

After we freshened up a bit at the apartment we went to the Island Inn for dinner. Service was unbelievably slow but the hummus was so outstanding we made arrangements to buy some the next day to enjoy in our apartment. After dinner we went to the library. It had been closed the last time we were on the island, so this was our first time to see it. I loved it! Tiny libraries in old homes always remind me of the one in Dennis, MA, where I used to go with my grandmother to check out books when I was visiting Cape Cod as a child. I felt so at home I could've stayed all night, but library hours are short on Monhegan, so we checked our email and went back to the apartment to have some tea and settle in for the night.
Pier at Port Clyde Posted by Hello
Passing seals on the way to Monhegan Posted by Hello
Exploring the shipwreck on Monhegan Posted by Hello

Monday, May 31, 2004

Boothbay Harbor

We woke up early and went to a bagel shop we had seen the night before to get some breakfast. Then we took our bagels and coffee to the waterfront and ate them while watching boat activity at the dock. We checked the boat tour prices for future reference and bought some postcards. Dan decided to take a picture of the fire boat tied up at the pier.

The trip to Boothbay was pleasant, with lots of nice towns to drive through on the way. We found our B&B and were impressed with the chattiness of our hostess, who rivaled Kay in Vermont for talk and odd stories. She gave us directions to a beach that supposedly had a lot of good trails. As it turned out, we didn't have much luck with the trail, which seemed to vanish after only a few hundred feet, but we spent a couple hours climbing over the rocks and had a good time.

After all that work, we were hungry and went back to the B&B to change into civilian clothes. Then we went to a deli down the street where I had a hummus wrap and Dan had a chicken caesar salad. Dan had a peanut butter cookie for dessert and I had the best blueberry bar ever made. Then we crossed the bridge into the main part of town where we did a bit of shopping for friends back home and for ourselves. Dan got a very nice rain jacket and I found some bracelets on sale.

Then we returned to the B&B for some tea and to make some dinner plans. Our hostess recommended a few places to us, so we went back across the bridge to check out one of her recommendations. As it turned out, the place we went to wasn't fully open yet for the summer season, but we had a nice light dinner in the pub and then strolled through town a bit more.

It was chilly though, and I was glad to get back to the B&B. We sat in the parlor and had tea. I wrote some postcards and Dan worked on downloading the day's pictures into the computer. We finally ran out of hot water for tea, so we went to bed.
Fire boat in Portland harbor Posted by Hello
Rocky coastline near Boothbay Harbor Posted by Hello
A pier in Boothbay at dusk Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Heading Down East

We got up early and packed to leave for Maine. We had breakfast at Paul's on our way out of Cheshire and dropped in on Grandma. Then we headed north to Maine.

The drive was pleasant but took a little longer than we had expected. We stopped in Kennebunk to visit the Seashore Trolley Museum, something I had been interested in for a couple of years. I was a bit disappointed that most of their vast inventory of old trolley cars was not available for public viewing. But we went for a trolley ride and saw a lot of old trolleys including a double-decker trolley from the UK, some cute 1920s trolleys and one from the early 1900s.

By the time we had finished at the Trolley Museum, it was too late to also make the Shaker Museum at Sabbathday Lake. At this point we had also realized that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to travel over Memorial Day weekend without a hotel reservation. We decided that Portland, being the largest city in Maine, would be our best bet for being certain of finding a room, so we headed there.

We had no idea where to go in Portland, but the waterfront sounded like a good idea and we soon found ourselves in the historic quarter fronting the harbor. We found the prices at the Garden Hilton pretty reasonable for what they offered, so we got a room and then went to explore the area. It was obvious that a lot of renovation had been going on in the past few years because all the old brick warehouses had become restaurants, shops and ice cream parlors. We had a nice dinner and browsed a a few stores, enjoying the street musicians and trying to avoid the street preachers.

Back at the hotel I went to the gym and then we got online and settled on a place to stay in Boothbay Harbor the next night. After our reservation was made, we relaxed with a bit of television and tea.
Trolley Posted by Hello
A street in Portland Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Happy Birthday to Grandma!

I woke up early and went for a run at the linear park (rail trail). It's a lovely place to run and I envy Connecticut residents of the area for having such a great resource! Early in the morning there's no one out there except a few retirees, which is especially nice. It's like having the whole thing to myself, except for the company of the occasional bird or rabbit. What a fine way to start the day!

I got home and found John working on Grandma's birthday breakfast. I showered and dressed, then helped him figure out how we would get everything to the nursing home. Dan helped us load the cars and we set off for Miller Memorial Home in Meriden. Grandma seemed a bit quiet and confused by all the fuss, but was very nicely turned out in a blue and pink pantsuit that matched the pink in her birthday corsage.

Breakfast was quiche, caesar salad, dates and my chocolate cake. We all ate heartily, except for Grandma who only picked at her food. She often appears self-conscious when eating in front of us, although she always wants us to join her for meals. Go figure. After we were done, John and I took the leftovers to the employee break room for them to enjoy-- a whole quiche and half the cake.

With the entire day ahead of us, John and Susan offered to take us to see some of the local sights. Most times we visit, we are only in town on weekdays and they're too busy with their jobs. So it was a nice treat to have them to ourselves for once. They took us to a trail leading to the top of a waterfall, which was fun. I don't think I had ever seen a waterfall from the top before. Then we went to a local park where we saw some Canadian geese, and then we went for ice cream.

Dan and I took a little nap and then Susan took us to Hammonasset Beach, one of the few public beaches in Connecticut. Dan thoroughly enjoyed the beach, as he does all beaches. Then we went to Middletown and had dinner at a Thai restaurant. By the time we got home it was after midnight-- an unusually late night for my aunt. It was about bedtime for me and Dan too, so we didn't bother trying to get online and just went to bed.
Grandma's 98th Birthday Posted by Hello

Friday, May 28, 2004

Off To Connecticut

I got up early and hurried around finishing packing while having a light breakfast of some honeydew melon. I wasn't really hungry but it would just go bad if someone didn't eat it. We got to the airport in good time and I finished off my breakfast with coffee and yogurt while we waited for our flight. Dan, ever the less calorie-conscious, had some breakfast tacos. He figured if there was a line of pilots and flight attendants trying to get some, they must be good. He said they were okay, but not like what you can get in the barrio. No surprise there.

Our flight to Philadelphia was uneventful except for the non-stop chatter of the four year old behind us. Thank goodness for earplugs! I don't want to listen to someone who never shuts up, much less someone who can't tell me something new.

The Philadelphia airport was impressive. It was like a shopping mall with every type of store imaginable. I browsed the mall a bit just out of curiosity, and then Dan and I had lunch. I had made wraps of blackened chicken, goat cheese, calamata olive spread, lettuce and shredded carrots and zucchini on whole wheat tortillas. I also brought crackers and granola bars, so we ate pretty well.

Finally we got on our flight to Providence, RI, which was quiet and uneventful in spite of being surrounded by infants. They must have all been from some other planet because not a single one started shrieking from pressure in their ears. Odd.

Once in Providence, we were a little confused how to pick up our car, but we finally figured it out and got on the road to Connecticut. We stopped in Mystic to shop at our favorite bookstore, which didn't seem to have as many must-buys as in other years. Maybe they have a new buyer. Nevertheless, we got a few books, including two from my wish list. Then we got coffee and oatmeal cookies and headed toward Cheshire, eating the last of the chicken wraps on the way.

We got to Cheshire early enough to go for a walk with John and Susan at the rail trail. We then went to dinner at Cheshire Pizza, where I had an enormous Greek salad and service was abysmally slow. Well, the company was good, so it didn't matter too much. Back at home, we visited a bit and I frosted Grandma's cake so it would be ready the next day. Sadly, we learned that our little buddy of previous years, John and Susan's black and white cat, had passed away. It hardly seemed the same without her there. She had been such good company in other years, helping us not miss our own cat so much. We'll miss you, sweetie!