Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boston/Bar Harbor

Today is a twofer--two days for the price of one click! Didn't post last night, so I'll include the drive from Boston to Bar Harbor and our day in Bar Harbor in this post.

The drive up the coast was good. We took US 1 most of the trip, but did maybe 25% of the mileage on I-95. The weather was outstanding; blue skies and very nice temperatures in the low 70s.

If I had to describe the trip in two words, I'd say "Yard Sale". They were everywhere you looked. I bet we saw 1,000 yard sales along the way. I guess it was New England Yard Sale Day! We stopped at a thrift shop (Big Sis loves thrift shops) just to look around and to fill her need to check one out. I bought a little thing--chest, I guess, that looked old and neat. It has a drawer and a cabinet door. It's painted and has some flowers or something painted on it. She bought a collander and bowl.

We drove into Kennebunkport, to see what it looked like. Busy with tourists. While riding up the road, she spotted a little fire truck that children ride in at a yard sale up the street. So we stopped to check it out. Turns out that the street was lined with yard sales, so we checked all of them out! I bought a Brass scale (0 to 50 pounds), the kind with hooks. Up the street, I found a Coleman two-burner stove in a box that the owners said they had never even opened. Got it for $8. Bar found several items on the street, but did not get the yard umbrella that she wanted because it wouldn't go into the car. She also got a pretty thingy with glass balls in copper that you hang up outside. And a few other things. If we keep up this pace, we're going to need a U-Haul trailer!

When we had finished our shopping, we headed to Freeport, ME, to see the LL Bean store. I guess we had not done all the shopping we needed to do. We actually only went to the Outlet store, looking for bargains. In the end, she found a good deal on a quilt, and some clothes. I found a small multi-tool that I liked. And that brought to an end our shopping for the day.

From Freeport, we jumped back on US 1 and went on to Bar Harbor and our motel, the same one that Gary and I had stayed in last year prior to taking the ferry to Nova Scotia.

Today we got up to a wet world; it had rained overnight quite a bit. We found a place for breakfast and then went on to the welcome center for Acadia National Park, where I bought my Senior Pass. I had been wanting to get one since I turned 62 years old. It's one of the best deals in travel--unlimited visits to national parks and many other national attractions for $10 as long as I live. A great deal indeed.

Drove to Cadillac Mountain, some 1,530 feet above sea level. It's a monolithic piece of granite that has views that are so pretty. It overlooks the town of Bar Harbor, and behind it, the ocean and bays. Numerous islands dot the sea, with green trees on most of the islands. It's clearly one of my top 5 prettiest places in the world. There's something about having the ocean and islands as a backdrop to a huge block of granite that I really like. I believe I overstated it to Bar; she liked it, but not to the same extent as I do.

We then went to Sand Beach to see the beach and put my hand in the cold water. It was crowded there, and we had a hard time finding a parking place. But we did find a space and walked down to the water. The beach is neat; about 500 feet long, with lots of little children running around and playing.

From there, we went to Thunder Hole, where the waves wash in to a narrow space between the rocky shore. It was peaceful, and we sat on the edge of the rocks watching the sea wash into the "hole". I think both of us enjoyed our stop there.

We rode around in the park a while, and then over to Northeast Harbor, on the other side of the island. It's a pretty place. Then back to Bar Harbor to walk around town a bit and look in the shops. Had a late lunch there, walked around and, around 7pm, headed back to the motel. It was a good day with Big Sis.

Need to decide where the road will take us tomorrow--either west to New Hampshire and the mountains, or south towards Philadelphia.

Friday, May 28, 2010


The day broke bright and sunny, with a little coolness and dryness in the air. Beautiful! A good day for a tour of the city.

We had booked one of the tour bus groups to do a day-long tour of the city. Our guide/driver, Rob showed up a few minutes early, and we boarded the bus. He explained that he had a small group today, and that it would be good because it would be more personal. Rob was a character!

Interestingly, we got into a conversation about cars and motorcycles on the ride into town. Turns out that he has a Series 3 BMW car that he races. He mentioned that he had been to Greensboro and had a track day at a track north of Greensboro. VIR! We talked about the track; he really likes it and wants to go back.

One "special" place he took us was Fenway Park, where the Red Sox play ball. We actually went into a bar that is housed at the green wall, at left field. From inside the bar, you could see inside the park to home plate. I'll post a pic of me and Big Sis.

We did all of the usual touristy things; I liked the Old North Church best. It's hard to imagine there being so many buildings 200+ years old. This is an old, historic place.

Rob returned us to our home away from home about 4:30pm, safe and sound. It was another good day on the road.

Tomorrow--Travel to Bar Harbor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Old Saybrook to Boston

Well, today was a good and easy day. During the night last night, we had a pretty severe thunderstorm, with lots of thunder and lightning. Rained pretty hard. So, when we got up, there were clear skies and much cooler temperatures. Welcome cooler temps!

Left the hotel and headed to New London to do a little looking around. It was a nice place, with lots of interesting sights. We didn't stop to get out of the car, but found that it was a nice-looking community.

Leaving there, we decided to go to Providence, RI, just to look around. I got off the Interstate at the wrong exit, and got on some small local roads. At one point, we had to stop for some geese and goslings to cross the road. Pretty neat! Had I not messed up with the directions, we'd never have seen them.

It is a very unique place, with very steep hills and very narrow streets. And tons of old, pretty houses and buildings. It is the home of religious freedom; there were several places that highlighted that theme. Driving around in some of the steep, narrow, curving streets was a challenge. I think the locals are used to it, but I surely was not used to it at all. Bar helped by telling me where to turn and looking out for traffic.

After Providence, we decided to go to Plymouth Rock, to see the sights there. Along the way, we found Pop's Cafe and stopped for a very good chicken salad sandwich and fries. Very good! I think every meal has been excellent so far. I'll get home and will see another unwanted 10 pounds from this trip. But the food is just so good.

It seems that we need a potty stop every 30 minutes along the way. Fortunately, our bladders seem to be on the same schedule, so I don't think either of us is getting aggravated with the other. I told her that I should rename this blog to "Two Weeks with Big Sis and Potties"! This getting older is a pain!!

Plymouth rock was neat. We went on the Mayflower II, a replica ship of the original ship to the new colonies. It was pretty neat,with the "Captain" there doing a lot of talking and ad-hoc answering of questions in the old dialect. It was enjoyable.

From the ship, we walked over to the "rock", looking down on it from a viewing area above. I wonder if it's THE rock, and if it's in the right location. Who knows, they could have picked out any rock to name "Plymouth Rock". Neat to see it just the same. Then we got some ice cream and jumped back into the car for a short ride to Boston.

Got to Boston before 4pm and decided to book a tour of Boston for tomorrow (Friday). Booked it and have been taking it easy for the past hour or so. This is the first time we've had any time to just relax with nothing pushing us.

We've decided to stay here two nights and leave Saturday morning for Bar Harbor, ME. I'm a bit concerned over lodging there; we're planning to be there the first big holiday of the summer, and have no reservations yet. Hopefully it will work out and we'll find something suitable.

Gotta wash clothes tomorrow night; the "dirty" bag is getting bigger than the clean stuff. Hopefully one washing will work out.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cape May to Old Saybrook, CT

Didn't post last night; too tired and too late to try to do it.

We got up in Cape May, drove to the Lighthouse and looked in the museum there, walked over to the beach, and just looked around a while. Then we hit the road headed north.

We visited several beach communities and headed to Atlantic City. Neither of us had ever been there, and we wanted to see it and to walk on the boardwalk to see what was there.

Atlantic City is pretty big, with lots of big hotels and casinos. Trump has several casinos, along with Ballys and others.

We found a parking place and went to the boardwalk. It was nicer than I had imagined; clean and wide; perhaps 50 feet wide, with lots of little shops along the mainland side. Many were the cheap Tee shirt shops; some tattoo shops, and food places. Nothing that interested either of us very much.

Walked up to one of the casinos. I asked Big Sis if she had ever gambled or been in a casino. She replied that she had not. So I asked her if she wanted to go in. She said it was alright, but she was not interested in gambling.

We walked around a little so that she could see the slot machines, craps tables, and other gambling stuff. At one point, I decided that I wanted to play a slot machine a little. So, I put $5 into the machine, and after about 10 minutes, had credits worth $6; a dollar profit! So, she decided that she would try $5 as well. She played about five minutes and lost her $5. I told her that it was a cheap lesson, that it did not pay to gamble. I think she agreed.

After that, it was time to move northward.

We took back roads north and westward, to keep away from New York City. We stopped in Parsippany NJ at a nice, but badly overpriced Hampton Inn.

Got up this morning, and rode through New York and on into Connecticut. We had decided to stay off I-95 and to stay on US 1 as much as possible. So we did. We have connections to US 1; our maternal grandparents lived in Henderson NC, near US 1, so there was some personal connection to the road.

It winds around I-95, sometimes on one side, and other times on the other side. It goes through numerous small towns and townships, making the progress slow, but with lost of interesting sights to see. It was an easy drive most of the time, and she is a great navigator, so it was a good day.

Towards the end of the day, we chose to stay at Old Saybrook for the night. Went into Essex to see sights, and had a beer at the Black Seal Bar. Pretty good, but pricey. Then dinner at the Griswold Inn, a place that has been in continuous operation since 1776! It was excellent. We shared a salad and pasta dinner, and it was wonderful and too much to eat!

It has been a good trip. We've talked so much about our childhood and things we did and people we knew and played with. A wonderful trip down memory lane. It is what I had hoped it would be. Her memory of people and facts is amazing. Once she's mentioned a person, I can then remember almost all of them, and picture a lot of them, but she had to jog my memory to help me remember.

The weather has been great the last two days. while the first two were not very good, the past couple have been almost all blue skies. But it was hot today, with 97 degrees showing in one place.

Tomorrow, we plan to get to Cape Cod.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cape May

Today's post will be short.

It was an easy day. We got up late (8am), got ready to go, and hit the road headed north. We had decided to head north to Lewes, DE and take the ferry to Cape May, where we would spend the night. So, we did!

The day was gray, with some sprinkles from time to time. On the ferry, it was foggy and more bouncy than I would have thought it would be. The ship itself was a fairly big ferry, much bigger than any of NC's. It had a restaurant and several bars on it. But the ship was not full, and only one bar was open--and even it was doing very little business. The hour and twenty minute ride was okay.

Got to Cape May around 4:30pm and rode up and down the beach road a couple of times, trying to get a feel for the layout of town. On the second trip up the beach, we started talking about a place for the night and settled on the Sea Crest, a white brick motel facing the ocean. We ended up staying there, talking the clerk down $20 on the inflated rate.

There are no hotels or cottages on the beach side of the road. A few businesses exist on the beach side, but for the most part the beach side is vacant. There is a raised, concrete buttressed promenade (fancy word for walkway) about 2 feet above the road surface, and people walk and bike along the promenade (as we did later!).

The town is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture is Victorian or Queen Anne, or Gingerbread, or some combination of those styles. Painted in multi-colors ranging from purple to red to blue, and including every color of the rainbow, they are stunningly beautiful. Hundreds of them! Most built in the 1860s with some a little newer, but just beautiful. A very romantic place.

We got in the room, added some clothes (it was cooling off), and walked to Washington Street Mall, about one-half mile into town. There we caught a trolley bus for a forty-five minute toour of the city. That was a good decision; we got to see and hear more than we would have known otherwise.

Then a walk down to the promenade, and finally, dinner at a mom and pop type diner facing the ocean. Got bluefish that was very good. Big Sis got a cheeseburger that was just huge.

Then a short walk back to the room for the night.

A good day. We're having a great time!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Delmarva Peninsula

Even though it was not a pretty morning just before leaving (rain, thunder, clouds), we got underway about 9am. Mostly it was just cloudy, but there was some rain sprinkling down at times, and a couple of hard showers as we headed north and east.

Decided to show Big Sis the Whirleygig Man's' (Mr. Simpson) place near Wilson. The wind was calm, so she did not get to see them in action. Wish it had worked out, but it didn't.

Then on north through Scotland Neck, where they park in the middle of the road in the middle of downtown. Through Rich Square to Merchant's Millpond State Park. I wanted her to see the millpond, since it's very pretty there and so remote.

North to Suffolk, VA, through Chesapeake to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Here, we got a big disappointment. The Seagull Restaurant, where they serve a huge flounder sandwich, was closed. Damn. It's a great meal, and we were not going to get any of it. On top of that disappointment, it was foggy. So, you couldn't see much. Oh well, it wasn't to be.

Then north on US 13 into the Delmarva peninsula. We went on and off Hwy 13 several times, going through little towns and villages where the old highway originated. We wanted to find Accomac, where our ancestors landed in the New World in 1623. We stopped in Accomac, took some pictures of the old courthouse and the jail. We did one short walk around the block and marveled at the old architecture and neat old buildings. It was very nice.

Since we hadn't eaten anything but snacks since breakfast, I was getting hungry, so we drove to the Mallard at Wharf restaurant in Onancock, near Accomac. We got a table outside by the dock, and it was very nice. Got an undercooked burger (which I sent back for a cooked one), and it was good.

After dinner, we tried to find the waterfront near Accomac, and found it after wandering around a bit. But there wasn't much there, so we headed back to Onley for the motel for the night.

Tomorrow--head north, old man!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Eve Eve Before Departure

As the heading says, it's the eve of the eve of our leaving town. Another way to say it is that we leave day after tomorrow! I'm excited!!

I think I'm pretty much ready. Have the clothes packed. And my meds. Bought snacks and drinks. All that is lacking is some of my gadgets that I usually take with me. Traveling in a car, I'll have much more space than I'm used to having. So, I can take more stuff.

Bar is supposed to arrive here tomorrow just after noon. It will be great to see her and to spend some time planning before we leave town. We had planned to get together one weekend to do some planning, but the timing just never worked out. So, we'll plan tomorrow and then go by the seat of our pants. More of an adventure that way.

I think we'll have some rain when we leave Sunday. Not easy to tell, but it's possible that we'll have several days of rain early in the trip.

When we leave Sunday morning, we're heading north and east, using secondary roads, headed towards Norfolk, VA. We may go by the Merchant's Millpond State Park, just so she can see it. Or we may not.

Our first "destination" is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. She's never seen it, and it's a neat thing, so we're going that way. I plan for us to stop at the Seagull Grill on the bridge and buy her a flounder sandwich. She has heard me talk about it, and I'd like for her to experience it herself. Of course, I really like them, and my mouth waters just thinking about it right now!

Up the Delmarva peninsula, we hope to see some remnants of our ancestors' landing from Scotland. I have no idea what to look for, or where, but we'll try to see what we can see. It would be so neat to actually find something connected to our ancestors and their beginnings in the New World.

We'll travel up the peninsula until it joins the mainland, and then basically work our way north, sometimes on Interstates and sometimes on smaller roads. I've come to love the smaller roads and the surprises they hold.

We are planning to not make reservations along the way, unless we feel it's needed. Since next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, we probably will need reservations for the weekend. We should be able to find suitable places along the way.

Guess it's time to wish us a bon voyage!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prelude, PT 2

So, what are we going to do over these two weeks? Truth be told, I don't know. I plan to be about as laid back as a person can be, with no agenda nor specific place I need to be. Bar wants to see a few specific things (Boston, Philadelphia, Bar Harbor, Washington, etc), but mostly it's about being together and exploring what's out there.

I want to relive our childhoods, not literally, but figuratively. She has a sharp memory of much of our early years; mine is very fuzzy. I know talking about people and things will help bring some of our past back to life. Exploring the cobwebs of our minds, recalling events that happened and events that didn't happen will be great. There are still mysteries to my youth--things that I don't understand that might get explained on while with Big Sis. She will have much more information than I will. I look forward to our conversations with much anticipation.

While it may be a mistake (I've gambled on this before and lost), we hope to not make reservations in advance, allowing maximum flexibility for the day. I would like to start looking for a place to stay long before dark, allowing us to rest a little before dinner, and giving us a little time in the town we're in for seeing what is in that town. Most of my travels haven't allowed this, but I want to give this a try on this trip. Who knows, we might drink a beer or have a glass of wine before going out. Yes, A beer; I want to be safe.

We're taking her car, a Chevy on the trip. Mine, a Civic had a mysterious occurrence a couple of weeks or so ago, when it would not start. The battery would spin the engine just fine, but it would not start. It sat for a week, and when I tried then, it started (albeit not easily), and when it started, spewed out some foul, black smoke which indicated a flooding condition. What's weird is that fuel-injected engines should not flood. So, with something amiss, I was a bit concerned over it's reliability and we decided to play it safe by taking her newer, more reliable car. We'll have more space with her car as well.

I'll have my usual array of gadgets with me. A GPS (with updated maps) with traffic alerts; a SPOT locating device (so friends and family can follow us on the Internet), computer, camera, and assorted chargers. Not as much as I carry on my long trips on the bike, but enough to help me to know where we are and to take pictures along the way.

I'll close this post so there will be a little more to ramble on over the next few days before we hit the road.

Read on!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I'm a Nicholas Sparks fan. I've read almost all of his novels, and have enjoyed each one very much. While he says he doesn't write love stories (he calls them "romance" stories, I think), they sure read like a love story. Including "Three Weeks with My Brother", the novel that spurred my interest in the adventure with Barbara, my older sister.

She's 3 years and 10 months older than me, and we were definitely of the same generation in our family of four siblings. She's always been smarter than me, and for the first 13 or so years, was much stronger and meaner than I was. But I learned how to deal with it pretty effectively by conniving more to get even with her.

I won't go into detail about our relationship, but I can say that it was a very strained relationship for most of my first 51 years. A dissolved marriage and many moons later, we've discovered that we actually like each other. And we love and respect each other as well.

My discovery of her as a good sister came when she finally agreed to going with me on a week trip to Alaska in 2004. We flew to Anchorage, rented a motor home, and toured around Alaska for a week. I think we both had a ball, and we came to know each other again. As adults. And I found out that she's an amazing person that I never knew. One of my most cherished sets of memories is our week together in Alaska.

Flash forward 6 years, and many "let's go somewhere again" comments, we're embarking on an adventure on May 23, 2010.

When I read "Three Weeks with My Brother", I saw a lot of us in the book. While she and I did not play together like Sparks and his brother, we still had much in common from a family standpoint, which is really what his book is about. Relationships and events of a family with problems, just as every family has some kinds of problems.

As I read through the pages, I kept having the thought "I need to do this with Sis". We are both retired, so we're not in a situation where we've got to worry about work and deadlines. I considered us doing three weeks, but felt that with life as busy as it is for each of us, probably two weeks is about right. And it felt too much like a copycat of Sparks. So, when I approached her, it was for a two week period.

I had decided to ask her if she would go at Christmas last year. I thought I'd just pull her off to the side and ask. However, she made it much too easy by giving me a book of National Parks she had found along the way somewhere. When I got it and found Acadia National Park (Maine), I walked over to her, opened the page to a picture of Acadia and announced "We're going here this spring!". She said "What?". I repeated and added, "We're going to New England". I could then see it sink in, and she said "OK!".

We talked a few minutes, discussing how long we'd take, and agreed to two weeks. I asked her if she had read Sparks' novel; she had not. I pushed her hard to get and read it, which she later did. I hope it sparked the same interest in her that it sparked in me.

We emailed back and forth about dates, and agreed on two weeks beginning May 23, with some agreement that if we needed to take a day or two more, that we'd just take it. We also talked about where and what, and decided that the easy way was for her to look at maps and other information and decide what she wanted to see and do, and we'd do it. I've been to New England and Nova Scotia twice, so I have some idea of what is there. She's never been north of Virgina, even though she's been to Europe 3 or 4 times! So, I'm the chauffeur, and she's the navigator.

Spending time with big Sis is what the trip is about for me. We both love to travel, so even though I would enjoy two weeks of her at the house, going somewhere, with new experiences and adventures will make it extra special. She's an easy traveler (as I think I am), so we shouldn't have any tension over what we're doing or where we're going. As I told her the other day "I'm easy!"

It's funny what you learn about people you've known all of your life. We were talking the other day, and the subject of having a lobster dinner while in Maine came up. I declared that when Gary and I went to New England last summer, that we didn't eat any lobster in 3 weeks of travel up there. I admitted that lobster is not one of my favorite dishes. She responded "I don't like it either--it's too sweet!" EXACTLY!! I think she and I are two of the only humans on this earth that don't like lobster. And neither of us knew that fact about the other until about a week ago. How wild is that??

And I think there will be lots of other discoveries like that along the way. With her being 66 and me 62, I know that there won't be a great number of opportunities to get to know her better, and I want to take advantage of our good health and reasonably good minds while we can. She's a neat person and I love her very much.

Follow us along on our amazing adventure in New England. Hope you enjoy it 1% as much as we will have doing it.