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June 1st, 2007


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10:25 pm - Paradiso Lost
Talking about my vacation is a little hard. Because talking about it.. rehashing it.. it means its over and that's a little hard to swallow. But now I'm getting ready to embark on my next great adventure -- Training in SAP and all that goes with configuring it for a living, and I suppose its time.


I hit giddy at 2pm on Friday the 18th, when the workday ended and I realized I was really and truly on vacation. I left for St. Louis the next day with 3 bags (2 backpacks and a smaller bag). I checked one so I wouldn't have to lug it around. I arrived in St. Louis without incident and my bag was there when I went to claim it. So was my Dad. I hung out with my family for a few days. St. Louis was really beautiful when I was there. In the high 70's, with flowers and well manicured lawns and birds (I saw a blue jay, a robin redbreast and a female cardinal.. very St. Louisy birds). I spent some time with my niece and sister and met her fiance. I only checked email once from a computer. I made minor attempts to check email from my phone periodically, but didn't go out of my way. We celebrated mothers and fathers days and my Dad sent me off with some nifty electronics. I also documented his extensive collection of morse code thingies (that's an official word.. grin) on film. (He's a HAM radio operator aficionado and operator.) I used the time in St. Louis wisely. I caught up on my sleep and lazed around Dad's house. (Grin)


Then I made for Camden, Maine. My travel wasn't as uneventful as I like. I had a few late flights resulting in a missed flight. But it all turned out ok. I got a free lunch at the airport and my bags still arrived when I did. My puddle hopper from Boston to Maine was AWESOME. A Beechcraft 1900 D. Every seat was a window seat save one. SPLENDID! It was only half full, so I had an aisle to myself. I felt like I was the Red Baron flying over Germany with those propellors(grin). Leatherish seats were pretty comfy too!

See its old time charm here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_1900


I grabbed a cab from Joe's taxi to the Camden Windward House B&B. (http://www.windwardhouse.com). Check out the Rooms -- the Carriage House room in particular. The pictures doesn't do it justice, but it gives you an idea of the splendiferous comfort I was luxuriating in. The room is actually outside the main house. It has its own entrance, key, etc. The room was all blues and white. I'm not big on floral, but it really was lovely. The bed had a feather top mattress. It was *SO* comfortable. There was a huge attached bathroom with a slipper clawfoot tub that was navy on the outside and pristine white on the inside. So pretty. I had a bubble bath in it whilst reading a really good book (happy sigh). They even had Crabtree & Evelyn soaps and lotions. Smelled *SO* good! Oh, and my room came with Giardelli chocolates at the bedside and a bottle of champagne. It was pretty decadent. The people who run the B&B are really nice too. I highly recommend it. :-D

The breakfasts in the morning were awesome. They had a menu of items to choose from and a selection fo the day as well. Once I discovered the blueberry pancakes, though, I kept coming back for more. Not only were they absolutely delicious (their blueberries really do taste better), but they were beautiful to look at too. They also had some really, really good coffee blended specially for them. (And you know how important coffee is to me.) I also got to meet and talk to another guest, who is an Australian fellow who bought a yacht and was getting it fitted and detailing it for a yacht race out of New Jersey. He was a really nice guy. I enjoyed talking to him.

The B&B was only about 2 (short) blocks from the water. Everything was walking distance.

A friend of mine from college met me in Camden and stayed there too. We played a *lot* of Magic: The Gathering. We both brought cards. Although the quantity of my cards paled in comparison, I did happen to accidentally trip across a deck that we both agreed was totally awesome. So, I feel like my contribution was worthy regardless (grin). We also played this other game.. Hera & Zeus, I think it was called? I did very well at that game. Only middling at Magic. Watched some movies and shopped. It was HOT there. It wasn't supposed to be. The weather report when I left for St. Louis was saying it was going to be high 50's to low 60's during the day. It was more like 90. I had to buy some cooler clothes than what I brought with me. Darn. I got some spiffy flipflops too. Got some gifts for a few folks. Also watched some videos my friend had brought along.. namely When Harry Met Sally and Galaxy Quest. Galaxy Quest is one of my all time favorites. I have watched it about a zillion times. Now it's a zillion and one (grin). Never fails to please.

The food was outstanding. In fact, Cappy's (http://www.cappyschowder.com/) had such great food we ate there every night. Every night we'd ponder all of our choices and go back to Cappy's. How could we not? They had such wonderful things as: lobster ravioli with a cream shrimp sauce (complete with shrimp). It was undoubtedly my favorite. Also potato shells stuffed with crab, their very own clam chowder, fresh blueberry pie (oh yeah!) with really good french vanilla ice cream (I'm not a big vanilla fan, but I really liked it). Oh, and microbrews. Lobster ale, blueberry ale, all sorts of nifty brews. It was a cool place with a lot of colorful artifacts to look at on the walls and their very own witty place mats that you can color if you need to entertain yourself (yeah, I did that too.. had to have the whole experience and all...). Oh, and real old time rootbeer and ginger soda. Yum!

The town is very old style, very well manicured, New England. The houses were stunning. The spring flower gardens were beautiful. We wandered all through it (it's not that big). We also sat and relaxed in the coliseum behind the library, where we saw some sort of minor rodent (something like a tan woodchuck with no stripes). We hung out at the harbor too, seeing the schooner Mary Day (the boat I was soon to board) in the harbor at night after I first arrived, then admired it a bit every day after that. (Grin) I was totally obsessed.. it's true. The harbor had a lot of activity. There were all sorts of boats there. Quite a few schooners too. I also saw some birds.. mainly mallards and some birds that I think were a variety of cormorant (also called shaq). They dive below the water to catch fish and they can stay under there quite a while. I tried to catch a photo of one, but they were just teasing me. They would just surface briefly then dive right back down again, surfacing 12 to 20 feet away.



Right behind the B&B you can walk out to this little road, and about two blocks later it dead ends at the beginning of a trail up a small mountain to the Mt. Battie memorial. (There is also a road up for the less adventurous.) We climbed Mt. Battie. It was my favorite part of the trip, I think. I started out feeling great.. so hey.. wanted to do it while I could, you know? It was the best sort of climb too.. some fairly easy bits, some climbing over rocks, new spring flowers coming up, navigating around pines... really satisfying. I love to climb and haven't in the longest time. There were rock cairns (little piles of rocks, some balanced one on top of the other) along the way, and a tiny mountain stream too (er.. maybe a mountain trickle??). It was pretty steep in some places and my knees were getting a little unreliable towards the top, which kind of added to the fun. (grin) The top of Mt. Battie has a stone tower, which you can climb up to the top of. There is a little wall around the top, turret style, and you can see quite a distance from there. I got some really awesome pictures of the land all around Camden, the ocean, the islands on the ocean.. very very pretty. They also had a map up there that showed you what the islands were called that you were looking at. The memorial was for the men & women of Maine who contributed their efforts to WWI. They also had a memorial for a local poet. You can read some of the history behind it here:

http://www.dupontcastle.com/castles/battie.htm

Getting down Mt. Battie was a little more interesting for me, but I made it and felt quite victorious. I got to use my new travel cane for the next two days, but it was *SOSOSOSOSOSO* worth it. That is one of my favorite bits of being in Camden.


Eventually it was time to say good-bye to my friend and board the Mary Day. I boarded in the evening after stuffing myself at Cappy's. I met my new roommate, a physican/professor from Montreal, Cara. We hit it off immediately. After Cara turned in, I stayed up for a while on deck and started a journal of my trip so far. There were a ton of folks on the boat. In the morning, I really had an opportunity to explore the Mary Day and start meeting my fellow passengers and the crew. It was quite a diverse mix of people. But they were all pretty darned nice. It was a little quiet at first, but as we became more friends that strangers, we chatted it up. The Mary Day is a beautiful Schooner. I loved the ropes and the wood floors, the efficient storage and all of the neat knots. On the Mary Day you can help if you like or not. I took the opportunity to furl the sails (tidily pleating them as they are taken down), steer the boat (trickier than it looks), and fold the American flag when it was taken down for the night. I learned a lot of nautical terms like mains'l, fores'l, stays'l, jib, tops'l, yardarm, boom, halyard lines (my favorite), muster, etc. So fun. No way to truly convey the awesomeness that was being on the Mary Day. I loved the sails and the lines. I loved watching some crew members put on their harnesses and run up the rigging to the top of the sails to tidy the sails up or putting the top sails in place. (That's quite a drop.. so they attach their harness to the landing up there.) I loved it when the boat would list to one side and you needed to tuck yourself in carefully where you were so you didn't slide down to the rail and over. I loved satisfying my curiousity about how they haul the anchors out of the water (they are monstrously big 450 pound steel anchors), hearing them sing out: ready on the peak? Ready on the throat? when they were getting ready to haul the sails up in the morning. I loved cranking ice cream with Cara, whilst belting out twisted tunes such as "I've been cranking on the ice cream.. all of the live long day..." (to I've been working on the railroad). I'm not sure which all songs we twisted (there were so many..) but we probably had "First I was afraid, I was petrified, that I wouldn't crank all of the ice cream in time... " LOL. We had a lobster bake on a little island. Complete with instruction in how to dismember your lobster. Had wine too. YUM! Rowboats dropped us off. Cara swum to another little island we stopped at. (I sensibly took the motor boat.. the water was like 54 degrees! Brrr!!!) We all watched Cara's historic leap over the side (some amused and some horrified) and followed her progress closely, because the water really was VERY cold! I spent all but the last coldest day barefoot climbing all over the boat. I spent the evenings usually reading by kerosene lantern. At night there was also music at times.. either Cara and I entertaining each other with cranking ice cream songs, or Captain Barry, the Cook, and a passenger, Hank, playing folk tunes (jigs and reels and such) on their guitar, accordian and fiddle respectively. And OMG, they could PLAY! I also caught the Cap'n Barry singing softly at the wheel from time to time. He has a nice singing voice.

Cap'n Barry and his wife and co-Captain Jen, live on the boat with their two kids all summer. The kids are young and climb like monkeys all over the boat. They obviously have been exposed to a lot of passengers, because they interacted well with everyone. I envied their ability to climb up high on top of the sails when they were down. I always did like tall places.

We had great weather. The last day, the weather had turned cool, I was wearing 4 layers, and a storm threatened. We got all battened down, but the storm passed without doing more than spitting a few drops here and there.

No talk of the Mary Day can be complete without talking about Mary, the Cook. She cooks all of the meals on a wood burning stove. She made the best food. Pancakes, cornbread, a thanksgiving dinner.. whatever she makes is more than edible. It's a little slice of heaven on a plate. There were plenty of between meal spice cookies, etc. too. And always coffee and tea. (YUM!) A special yum to her cranberry sticky buns.

You'd never have known it was the first cruise of the season. The Mary Day ran like clockwork.

I would love to do it again. Actually, I wish I could live on the Mary Day all summer. I loved just hanging over the side and watching the water. It was beyond words.

Someone asked why Cara, from Canada, was more tan than me, but I was a little indignant. I'm Irish and Czech. I am *REALLY* tan (for me). (grin)

You can read more about the Mary Day here: http://www.schoonermaryday.com/



I took about a billion pictures and some video. Posting video is beyond my meager skills. But, I have already posted a few of the digital pictures I took (the best of the best) and eventually will get the 35mm film developed and posted too. Those shots are the best.. but you'll have to wait your turn. My digital pics are posted on my myspace. Enjoy!

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=40459915


Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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