Wednesday, November 29, 2017

RVing and Leaf Peeping in the White Mountains

On  a Thursday afternoon in late October we hitch up the RV and drive to Danforth Bay RV Park on Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire . This is a very pretty RV park. Although it is late in the season the leaves are still very peepable . Should be past peak but it’s been warm.

We set up the dog pen by the fire pit overlooking the lake. Pretty! Lee cooks chicken for dinner and we fall into bed early.

In the morning I do a short run around the park. It’s big, twice around gets me 3 miles.

One of the things we want to do while we are up here is drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road. But it’s awfully windy on Mount Washington today, with gusts to 95mph! Mount Washington is notorious for crazy weather. It holds the record for the strongest winds ever recorded in North America, 231 mph back in 1934. In the winter the combination of very cold weather and crazy winds can result in wind chills in the  -40 to -50F range. Its nothing like that today, but still 95 mph winds could very easily blow our little dogs away, to say nothing of us! So instead we go for a hike. We decide to hike to Champney Falls off the Kancamangus Hwy. 

The leaves are just spectacular along the Kanc, even though it is late. The hike goes gradually up, up, up for a couple miles. Our dogs are so game. They trot right along, happy to be out in the woods with all the interesting smells. The falls are a bit of a disappointment; it’s been dry. But I get some good pictures of falling water all smoothed out.

We meet Carol and Joe for dinner at Jake’s Seafood. Yummy! Carol and I split a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Oh my.

On Saturday the weather cooperates so we drive to Mount Washington. This is a nice drive through Jackson and Pinkham Notch. 

The Auto Road from the Summit

I elect to be the person to drive up the auto road. The road is very narrow and very steep. Meeting other cars descending the mountain is terrifying in a white knuckle sort of way.  Its hard to believe that they hold a road race here every June. The incline is at least 8-12% and in places reaches 22%! At over 6200 feet, Mount Washington is the highest point east of the Mississippi. The road travels seven miles to the summit, passing the tree line and entering an alpine meadow. When we started our climb the temperatures were in the 70s. By the time we reached the top it was in the 40s with 40 mph winds. We park, and put on down coats, hats, and gloves. The dogs are game at first then not so much when they realize just how crazy the weather is outside the car.  We climb the steps to the summit where it is even windier. Heather balks about half way up and I have to carry her part of the way. After taking their picture at the summit sign they are grateful to get out of the wind and back in the car.

After the dogs are safe I gingerly get out my camera and snap away. I can hardly walk and can picture it flying away and me with it.

Bretton Woods in the Distance

The views are amazing but it’s very intense.

Then we go to Carol and Joe’s for lunch. Our silly dogs are delighted to play with their dog’s toys and chase the chipmunks in their yard. Ruby and Pia regard our dogs with mild interest and can’t figure out what they are so excited about.

Left to Right: Heather, Harper, Ruby, Pia, Cosmo Staring at Chipmunks

We drive home that afternoon on a very warm fall New England day. We’ve managed to experience a 40 degree difference in temperature in the course of a single day without a front blowing through. Impressive.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Elsa and Sam’s Wedding and a Few Other Detours

This was written back in October.

Thursday, October 5th.

Here we are in Columbia, so familiar even while it continues to grow and change. We came in yesterday, got up early to take the dogs to Diane’s, then drove through rush hour traffic to Boston to get on our 11 am flight to STL. 

I’m sorry there wasn’t time to see Nancy and my cousins and aunt and uncle and friends Sarah and Jay. We would have had to come in a day early to do that. Instead we hopped right on I70, with a stop in Wentzville for Culver’s ice cream.

We are staying at Gail and Phil’s so that there is room for the kids to stay at Joanne’s and nobody has to get a hotel. In the evening we go over to Joanne’s and then to see if we can get a table at Flyover, a new restaurant that everyone is raving about. The wait is only 30 minutes so we sit outside on their porch and enjoy some adult beverages while we wait.

They have really good cocktails, but I stick to a glass of wine since I have a long run to do tomorrow. But Joanne gets their special Manhattan and wow! It even smells great! Something about setting the orange rind aflame seems to do the trick.

This restaurant serves small plates to share. I’m very hungry and jump right in, saying let’s get the chicken fried cauliflower, the spinach salad and the hanger steak. Nobody minds my pushiness and it’s all delish.

Friday, October 6th

I get up at 4:30. It’s warm,  it’s humid, and I have 20 miles to run. I’m supposed to run 18 of them at marathon pace, but it only takes a couple miles before I decide that’s a terrible idea. The humidity is so thick that I quickly decide to run as slow as I need to to make it through without collapsing.

That turns out to be very very slow by the end of the run. I maintain a pace for as long as I think is safe, and then reduce the run part of my run/walk segments until my heart rate goes down. By the end I’m running only 15 seconds and walking 30, but that’s okay. I get the miles in and I don’t pass out.

When I start it is just pitch black out and it takes at least an hour before it gets light enough so I can see without my phone flashlight. Normally I would have used my headlamp but I didn’t think to bring it to Missouri.

I run on the MKT rail trail, all the way to the KATY rail trail along the Missouri River, and then another mile toward Rocheport before I turn around. From the time I leave the Columbia city limits until I head back toward town I don’t see another living soul. Until it’s gets light it’s kind of creepy, and even then it’s a little unnerving. And the mosquitoes in the river bottoms along the KATY are terrible! My legs are covered with bites. I didn’t think I could possibly need bug spray on a run in October, but I guess I was wrong. It’s rainy, cloudy and so very humid. I’m just a puddle by the time I finish.


Lee gets me Sub Shop sandwiches for lunch and now I’m resting, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay awake tonight and be up for Shakespeare’s pizza with the fam.


I actually took a nap! It was a real nap, about an hour. It even registered on my Fitbit.


Daniel gets in around 5. We go over to Joanne’s to say hello, then we head to Shakespeare’s. There has been a lot of development in downtown Columbia lately. Some parts were almost unrecognizable. Lots of tall modern buildings. Even the building that Shakespeare’s was in is now a 10 story apartment building. But Shakespeare’s itself had been recreated to look just like the same old place.  I’m glad; it’s a Columbia institution!

Lee finds a table and I get in line for the pizza, while Daniel makes sure Joanne get into the venue for the rehearsal dinner safely. They are holding the rehearsal dinner for the wedding at Shakespeare’s too! The three of us eat our pizza while we wait for Sarah and Erik to appear. When they are about 30 minutes away I order them a pizza too.

They finally make it to Shakespeare’s sometime after 8:30. Poor things! Just a very long rainy drive through Iowa. It’s great to see them both, including Sarah’s darling pregnant belly. It’s hard to believe that in less than three months my first grandchild will be here!

Saturday, October 7th, the Wedding.

We’re all watching the weather forecast anxiously. The morning is rainy but it’s supposed to clear up in the afternoon, and around 12:30 that starts to seem like it might very well be the case.

At around 2:15 we head for the Becker’s. All the rain has passed and it’s a beautiful sunny day! We pick up Sarah and Erik at Joanne’s on the way. Daniel has already driven Joanne to the wedding earlier. The Becker’s have arranged things so guests can park on Warren’s property across the road and then take a golf cart to the Becker’s.

At the Becker’s the tents and flowers are just amazing. We can get a rosemary grapefruit cocktail or another beverage. I opt for the cocktail and its very good! We gather in the front yard where the ceremony will take place. As Elsa and her parents come down the aisle I start to get tears in my eyes. Of course! I almost always cry at weddings. 

The ceremony is just beautiful. When it is over we retire to the backyard to toast the bride and groom, shower them with soapy bubbles from little champagne bottles, and snack on flavored popcorn.

Then it’s time for dinner. Mark and Mary are friends with people that own a restaurant in town and boyoboy that is the best wedding food I have EVER eaten! Skewers of chicken, pork and veggies, with amazing dipping sauces for each. Roasted potatoes. Spinach salad. Quinoa salad. French baguettes. I get a glass of a Grenache with my dinner and let’s just say it was a very generous pour. One glass is plenty, thank you!

Dessert includes an amazing apple crisp with caramel sauce, rosemary shortbread cookies, and a bit of very intense chocolate. No wedding cake, darn it! My only complaint. I think for our 40th wedding anniversary we need to have an anniversary cake. Or something.

Then of course it’s time to dance. It turns out my brother-in-law Mark can really dance. He twirls his daughter around the floor much to our delight. Pretty soon everyone is out there dancing away. One thing I like about my fam, even though we’re not great dancers we generally get out there and wiggle around. Daniel and I try our best to dance together but I keep stepping on his toes. Oh well!

Elsa belonged to a sorority in college and her Kappa sisters sing her some traditional sorority song. I don’t exactly get it but they gather in a circle and serenade her. And so does Joanne! She told me later she just got her 60 year pin and couldn’t resist.

We are back at Gail and Phil’s by 8 pm and I’m in bed not long after. I sleep a good 8 hours  and wake up still feeling groggy.

Sunday, October 8th.

There’s a brunch at Mark and Mary’s this morning, a variety of egg casseroles made by Joanne, donuts, fruit salad, juice and coffee. We sit in the sun under the tents and relax. They have a huge mess to clean up, I don’t envy them. One of the disadvantages of having a wedding in your own backyard for sure.

Around noon Sarah and Erik and I get in their car for the long drive to Minneapolis. I want to go up to Duluth on Monday and meet my new great nephew Harrison, Nicole and Tom’s new baby. The drive to Minny is long, but the sun is shining and we have ice cream for lunch. Frozen custard, a Missouri / Iowa thing. I have a turtle sundae; I’m hungry!

Sometime close to 7 pm we stop at Lund’s for a carry out dinner. We eat and not too long after I fall into bed, exhausted.

Monday, October 9th.

Monday morning I get up and go for a 7 mile run on the nearby Luce trail. The air is crisp and cool and it feels great to run, much better than last Friday! I love running in Minnesota but I’ve never tried it in the dead of winter. I’m afraid I’d have to spend way more time on a treadmill than I would prefer. I suppose I will be even more grateful to escape to Florida.

Sarah and I leave for Duluth around 10:30. We are there by 1, with a quick stop at Northern Waters Smokehaus for sandwiches. They specialize in smoked meats so Sarah has to nuke her salmon a bit b4 she can eat it. All the things they do nowadays that improve mother and baby safety! 

The sandwiches are yummy, Nicole looks great, and Harrison is just adorable! Nicole seems to really be enjoying mommyhood. Harrison just turned two months old. He has Tom’s dimple in his chin and is just starting to smile. Sarah and I hold him a lot. I’ve forgotten how to hold a baby, especially such a rolypoly wiggly one! 

Nicole puts Harrison in a snuggly, we put Jennie their rambunctious dog on a leash and go for a walk in nearby Chester park. What a beautiful park! It even has a little ski slope! We walk along the rim and then back to their house. It’s time to get back on the road and return to Minny. I like Duluth but man it’s ccccccold!

Tuesday, October 10th.

I drive Sarah to work so that I can have her car. Lee has scouted some properties, mostly land, in the area, and I’m going to check them out. One, only a mile from Sarah and Erik’s house, is really nice. It’s for sale by owner and he has actually RAISED the price. It’s been on the market awhile and I bet the guy is some kind of nut cause otherwise it should have sold. Another one, in Excelsior, is also attractive. It’s a corner lot, a tear down, and requires a little more imagination to see it as something we could make our own. 

Then I get Sarah’s car washed and vacuumed and go buy some Dogwood coffee. I’ve drunk up most of their coffee, since they don’t drink coffee at home very often. I split a bag with then so I can take some home too.

We meet Sarah at a ramen place close to her office for dinner, Ramen Kazama. Ramen is not something that easy to find where we live, unless my very talented husband makes it! The restaurant scene will be one of the big advantages to moving to Minnesota.

Wednesday, October 11th.

I have to get up very very early for my flight back to Boston. I call Uber and he shows up right on time and gets me to the airport without any trouble. Security is slow even with TSA Pre, and I need to grab some breakfast before I get on the plane. First I try Surdyks but his cash register stops working and he has to shut down. I get in the line next door at Carabou Coffee. Its long and slow. By the time I get my coffee and banana bread I only have time to walk to my gate and get right on the plane! Well at least I didn’t miss my flight. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sailing in the Storm with Gail and Phil - Part 2

The conclusion of our aborted sailing trip back in September:


We drove up the coast, first to Rye for lobster rolls and haddock sandwiches at the Beach Plum. Then through Wentworth by the Sea, Castle Rock, and Portsmouth. We hopped on the interstate a bit, long enough to get to York. We went to the Nubble Lighthouse and admired the huge waves safely from the shore. We drove up to Ogunquit and walked the Marginal Way. On our way back we stopped at Stonewall Kitchens for jams and free samples. It was a very nice day, even if we weren’t on a boat.


Our friends went to Cambridge for the day while we tried to figure out a plan for at least a few days of sailing. First we thought we'd go to Rockport and then on up to Newburyport and get the boat out of the water. But they can't haul it until after October 15th and there's no place to leave it there until then. So now we think we will go down and spend the night on the boat Saturday and then get up early and go to Plymouth. This has been a very frustrating experience, but there's nothing we can do. We’ve invited people to go boating with us many times and this is the first time our plans have been thwarted so thoroughly. SIGH!


Finally! Saturday is beautiful, warm and sunny. The seas in Mass Bay are still rough, but we go ahead and get ourselves packed and back down to the boat Saturday afternoon. We settle in, eat dinner, relax. It's actually warm and we have to put up the sunshade. There is a bank of fog way off outside the islands, hopefully it will stay far out to sea. Tomorrow with any luck we'll make our way to Plymouth. We have a slip at the Brewer Marina there. Time for our luck to turn!

It's Phil's birthday, and we have bought cake at the store, slices of raspberry, chocolate, and carrot. We have candles too, so we sing happy birthday, and eat cake on the boat, lots of cake!


The fog lifted and finally we were able to show our friends a nice day on the waters of New England. The last vestiges of Jose had drifted out into the Atlantic and the seas had moderated. Out in the middle of Mass Bay there were 2-3 foot swells, somewhat disorganized but smooth and gentle. There was no wind and not many other boats, except commercial fishermen. We saw several large ships, steaming this way and that, probably in a hurry to make up time after the storm.

This time we stayed at the Plymouth Brewer Marina, on a slip. Slips are so convenient, shore power, easy on and off. The dogs were happy to get off the boat and go for a long walk around Plymouth. We showed our friend's Plymouth Rock, walked up to the old graveyard and back through the park. For dinner we decided on Surfside Smokehouse again. This time I got the lobster Mac and cheese, which was very yummy. All our meals were enormous. Gail got salmon tacos, Phil got fish and chips and Lee got fried chicken.


We awoke to a beautiful sunrise. Lee took the dogs for a nice walk, we ate breakfast and took our time. It's not far from Plymouth to Scituate. First we decided to get pumped out. We needed to go to the town dock to do so, but a motor boat snuck in right before us. He filled up on diesel, and then proceeded to hose off his boat as well. Meanwhile we motored around in a circle, waiting.

The approach to the town dock was very narrow. Lee ended up backing into it; I was very impressed. Fortunately there was no wind, otherwise it might not have been possible.

Once pumped and with our fuel topped off we headed out of Plymouth harbor and back into Mass Bay. Lee wanted to go out a bit and see if maybe we could spot a whale. We went out about five miles and then turned toward Scituate. Nothing, the water was calm, there was no wind. It was very warm, and there was very little shade.

The surf at the entrance to the harbor was surprisingly fierce. The sea wall had big crashing waves, even though the swells were only 2 feet max. We could only surmise that it was due to the angle of the waves, pounding directly on the wall. Later talking to the launch driver, he said the wind just howled last Monday and Tuesday, and they could see towering waves high above the sea wall at the entrance to the harbor.

Finally we were in Scituate Harbor. Always a lovely place to be. Once on our mooring we could set up our sunshade. In a little while we went into town. I took the dogs for a nice long walk. Back on the boat it cooled off rapidly once the sun went down. I went from shorts and a tshirt to a sweater, long pants and even a fleece, before we decided to go below for dinner. Lee made pork burgers and sweet potatoes and it was delicious.


We woke up to thick fog, again. Not quite as bad as last time, but bad enough. When it was time to go we turned on the AIS, took down the Westie flag, and hoisted the radar reflector. We can receive AIS signals but we don't transmit, so other boats can't see us.

At first we used the air horn every two minutes. Poor Cosmo, he truly detests that horn. He was shaking and looking at me in distress, since I was the horn blower. We used up one air horn, and since we only had one more we went to every four minutes.

Motoring through fog in calm seas is so boring, and stressful too. It's like sailing around in a circle of water ringed by a cloud. The cloud shifts and changes a bit, but not very much. Everyone tries to keep a sharp lookout, cause there could be other boats out there like us that don't transmit. As we approached Marblehead finally the fog began to lift and suddenly it was another beautiful sunny hot day.

We packed up the boat and headed home. We were all very tired, and Gail and Phil had to get ready to fly home tomorrow. We still need to get the boat up to Salisbury at some point, but probably not for another week, or two.

We certainly learned things on this trip. I kind of shudder at the thought that we almost decided to go ahead and go down to Plymouth before Jose hit. The boat would have been stuck there for a week anyway, and we would have had to figure out how to get home. And the winds there were strong enough that we saw some boats down there with damaged sails.

I learned that if you accidentally leave the ignition switch on after you turn the engine off it makes a very annoying clicking sound. I learned that the water heater switch on the power panel is only for use when we have shore power. And I also learned that if you leave that switch on overnight when you DONT have shore power you will be awakened in the middle of the night by a very loud high pitched squeal, as the inverter runs out of battery power. 

I wonder if this is the last time I will ever go out on this boat. It is for sale, but it may take awhile to sell, larger boats often do. It's probably our last sail boat, but certainly not our last boat. My husband loves the water way too much for that to be the case. But sailing is a lot of work and more and more we don't bother to put up the sails unless conditions are perfect. But motor boats that are large enough for cruising are very expensive to buy, and to own. So who knows what will end up happening!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sailing Into the Storm With Gail and Phil September 2017 - Part I

This is about our thwarted cruise back in September:

Well here we are on the boat again. We had a great elaborate plan to make it down through the canal down to Cuttyhunk, to Martha's Vineyard and maybe even to Nantucket, but this annoying thing called a hurricane has intervened. 

No not Harvey, that made such a mess of Houston. And not Irma that giant scary storm that devastated the Caribbean and hit Florida but could have been so much worse. No, I'm talking about Jose, the irritating little storm that has been meandering around in the Atlantic for what seems like weeks, twirling around in a circle, heading here, heading there. Now it seems to be slowly making its way northwest. It probably won't hit the east coast, but it might. It may make for a tropical storm, or it might not. It most certainly is going to create some really big seas, and those we must avoid as much as possible.

Our plans keep changing. Plan A, plan B, plan C. Today we just came down to Salem, MA. We loaded the boat, ate lunch at Sea Level, fish tacos for me, Lee and Phil, and a lobster roll for Gail. A small storm blew through so we stopped at the Custom House and took a short tour. Did you know that before the income tax was created in the 19-teens, Custom Houses were the main source of income for the United States government? Did you know that before ships became too large for this harbor, Salem, MA provided 9% of the governments income through Custom House fees? Did you know that Nathaniel Hawthorne once worked as a clerk at the Salem Custom House? Well, now you do. Just think, all the years we have been sailing out of Salem and we have never been in that building before. The House of Seven Gables is right next door to the Marina and we've never been in there either. We're terrible.

Right now the weather for Saturday though Monday looks okay, but Tuesday says "possible tropical storm warnings". We don't want to be far away if that comes to fruition. So we think tomorrow we will sail to Scituate. And then we'll just have to see.


Well our plans have changed again (plan D?). Last night in the middle of the night I lay there worrying. Even in a safe harbor, if the ocean has 9 foot swells, it's going to be very uncomfortable on a boat. There will probably be 3 foot swells in any harbor, and most places will stop running their launches in that sort of weather. Add possible tropical storm winds to the mix and we have realized that we need to go home until this blows over.

I feel bad for our friends. We've planned this vacation with them for a long time and I know they are disappointed. But it's out of our control.

Instead, today we motored over to Marblehead and got ourselves a mooring for the night. Then we went over to Great Misery island and picked up a day mooring. We ate our lunch and then took the dinghy into the island for a hike.

This was really fun. It's one of those things we've been meaning to do for a long time but for whatever reason it never worked out before.

The island is really beautiful, and it has some interesting ruins as well. We discovered more beaches and coves that boaters hang out at on the other sides too. 

On the way back to Marblehead some really pea soup fog socked in. It was bad enough that we turned on the AIS and I stationed myself on the prow of the boat with our fog horn, emiting a loud blast every 2 minutes. We couldn't see a thing. 

As we drew closer to Marblehead we could hear other fog horns from other boats. Suddenly there we were right in the middle of a race! What a strange thing! I know racers can be pretty hard core but this seemed ridiculous, and dangerous too. I mean they couldn't even see their marks! We skirted around the activity and before too long we were on our mooring. 

Plans for tomorrow are up in the air as well. We can safely stay out until Monday, but don't want to range too far away. We'd like to go to Manchester-by-the-Sea but the yacht club is not sure they'll have any moorings available since everyone is staying close to home. Once again we'll just have to wait and see.

The one positive note is that the marine forecast is moderating just a little. So although the tropical storm warnings are still there, and the intense seas as well, they seem to think they will diminish rapidly. So we'll cross our finger that by next Friday it will be safe to venture out once more.


We wake to the most amazing fog. Marblehead is just totally socked in.  So we take our time. There's nowhere to go and nothing to do anyway. I go ashore with Lee, Phil and the dogs. I take a shower and then we go to a nearby coffee shop for breakfast sandwiches and muffins and coffee. We go back to the boat and go down to the pump out station, get pumped out and load up on water. Still very foggy. Finally we head out of Marblehead Harbor and start to head back to Salem. There are no moorings to be had at Manchester-by-the-Sea. As we get close to Winter island suddenly the fog lifts and it's bright and sunny. There is even a bit of a breeze. Maybe we can at least go for a little sail? But no. There is still fog over by the islands and Marblehead. We wait to see if it will lift, but instead it starts to sock back in. Oh well!

So, now we're home, waiting it out. It just depends how long Jose takes to pass us, and how high the wave height gets, and how quickly it diminishes. We're hoping we can get back out on Friday and cruise for 5 days. The forecast changes day by day. What happens next is anybody's guess.

Monday - Wednesday 

Well we're not on the boat. Monday our friends went to Boston, walked the Freedom Trail. Tuesday we hung out, making pies and applesauce. Today a movie (Dunkirk, very good!) and trip to Arlington to get sushi from Torero. We're making the best of it. Friday is out, seas are still forecast to be 8-9 feet. Now Saturday isn't looking good either, still 5-6 feet. Right now Sunday is 2-3 feet. 


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