41 On Vacation

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Having lived aboard for over a year going on vacation seemed to be the thing to do. Our niece Nancy’s wedding to Jeff in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI provided a vocal point and good excuse to become land people instead of boat people. We turned off Tranquility’s battery powered refrigeration and gave away the items still needing cold. Made a last check of the mooring, rowed ashore and put the dinghy up on a dock. Then we were off in a rental car for two weeks of exploring on land.

Shore travel took getting used to again. First there was the speed and more vexing, the changes in speed. Motoring on Tranquility, the throttle is set, usually for 2,500 rpm and just over 6 knots. It usually remains set like that for the duration of the trip. In the car, we were constantly working either the throttle or the brakes. Took getting used to not being able to move around while traveling. On Tranquility the person not steering has the freedom of the boat. In the car it seemed confining to be restricted to the passenger seat. Having to stop for gas once or twice daily was a switch from stopping for fuel once a week. However going 60 mph instead of 6 knots did have some advantages.

We took the scenic routes back to Rochester, NY. It was fun traveling through the mountains in New Hampshire and Vermont. It was especially nice going back through the Adirondacks where we had spent many summers. The traffic was light, the scenery great, and road work we encountered didn’t slow us down too much. Heading out of the mountains on a Friday afternoon was the direction to be traveling. Traffic going into the mountains appeared to be 5-10 times heavier than the flow out.

We had a wonderful time visiting family. As usual, Linda and Steve had again rearranged their house; not furniture, the house. The first floor greenhouse was gone, replaced by a second floor sunroom and deck looking out over the pond. The house seems to have something different each time we visit.

Cindy and Mike provided a home base for our Rochester, NY stay. We cracked up when we found the welcome mat we had given them for Christmas was not at the door as expected, but hung on the kitchen wall in a place of honor because Mike loved the saying and personalization Ruth had done to make it unique.

Debbie and Jeff were waiting for mortgage approval on a new house. We got a chance to go out and go through it with them and can now better share the excitement of their first home knowing what it looks like.

One of the tough things about living aboard and traveling continually is that some things like dental work get tricky. Unlike mail, you can’t have your dentist forwarded to your next port of call. And unlike getting a haircut, you can’t just walk in and get an appointment. We had put off dental work for a year, not sure where to pick a spot for visits. We finally went back to our old family dentist Dr. Boehm in Rochester, NY who we liked and figured we could visit when we went back to see the kids. We went in for cleaning and for repair work on a tooth I’d broken. Dr. Boehm found additional problems and now I’ll be making a return visits.

One of the joys of e-mail is being able to keep in touch on a more frequent basis than having mail forwarded every 2 months allows. Our friends on Samum, Marilyn and Tom e-mailed an invite to visit on our way to Detroit. We took them up on the offer and headed north into Canada up to Meaford on Georgian Bay. It was a fun reunion. They had invited Barb off of Eriskay, who had also traveled with us and we all had a grand time covering past, present and future plans. Tom even took me to the now famous chip wagon. He had spent the winter talking about it each time we had french fries when we ate out in the Abacos. He was right, their fries were great. We took back a big order for all to share for lunch.

Marilyn and Tom have a hobbit house for sale. We walked over to see it and Ruth fell in love. Figured it would be perfect for us someday. However, we’d have to have it moved to a warmer climate and that might be expensive. We deferred houses until sometime in the future.

Two days after a nasty thunderstorm had torn up parts of Dearborn we visited Rick and Joan. They had phone service, but no electricity. Walking the neighborhood with them made the extent of the damage very apparent. Broken trees still blocked some roads. Downed wires and broken power poles were everywhere. Tarps covered broken roofs split open by falling trees. One tree had done a nice job of crushing both the car sitting in the drive and its garage. The sound of chain saws and shredders filled the air. After dark we walked the neighborhood again. No street lights. Few cars moving. Most houses were dark. A few windows had dim lights from flashlights, or an occasional warm glow from an oil lamp. Occasionally the quiet was broken by the sound of a generator that seemed out of place in the strange quiet darkness of the neighborhood.

For us and many of the out of town guests, Nancy and Jeff’s wedding started a day early. We were all at the same hotel and ended up having an informal party the night before the wedding. A great time was had by all both then and then at the wedding and the reception after. For us it was again a great time to see all of our relatives. We had a grand time.

On our way back east, we stopped and visited with Rita and Jim. Jim like Steve cannot leave a house alone. He’s added a sun porch and done other remodeling. Interesting touches are the balcony rail, a former communion rail, and the doors for the washer/dryer closet; doors from confessionals.

Two weeks on the road left us itchy to get back home to Tranquility. We are boat people more than land people. It really felt good to get back home. We had an added bonus. Cindy and Mike came over to Maine for vacation and to see how boat people live. They came on their Harley.

Cindy and Mike got a feel for what living aboard is like. Just to keep it interesting, the head pump failed the first night back and I spent an hour rebuilding it. Ruth, Cindy and Mike swapped travel stories in the cockpit while I handled the messy job below.

It was nice having Cindy and Mike along for exploring Boothbay Harbor. They provided a different viewpoint and set of eyes for seeing the town. For us, Boothbay seemed like the interchangeable tourist towns we’d seen before. For Cindy and Mike, town was new and interesting. Through their eyes we saw things we would have missed otherwise. Mike like me is not a shopper, so he and I tagged along doing a lot of wide aisle tours of shops and then enjoyed people watching outside while the ladies did the detail looking.

Heading for Damariscove Island with Cindy and Mike we saw our first whales. The whales were close enough so that we could hear them blow as they surfaced to breath. They surfaced a few times then sounded and disappeared leaving us scanning the water looking for another sighting.

We carefully picked our way into the tiny, confining, narrow harbor of Damariscove Island. There was just enough room for boats to anchor in a single file line in the narrow confines of the rock walled harbor. We set the anchor, watched to make sure we wouldn’t swing into the rocky sides and set off to explore shore. The island was all you would expect in a Maine offshore island. Rocks yielded some space to thin soil that supported bushes and grass. The old life saving station from the 1800’s was now the private home of a lobsterman. Lobster pots filled the dock adding a working atmosphere to the tiny harbor. Two weather beaten buildings were the only other dwellings on the island. The Nature Conservancy owns most of the island and had set up a small museum in one building. We learned the island history and then set off to walk the paths and explore the shore. Cindy and Mike found interesting shells in one of the tidal pools left by the outgoing tide. The view 6 miles back to shore, and out into the blank sea in the other direction increased the feeling of being on a remote island.

The four of us went on a professional whale watch tour. This was a major boat that rapidly got 20 miles offshore to where many whales were feeding. As we left the harbor, the captain explained we had an hour trip out, 1.5 hours of whale watching and an hour trip back. It was a nice theory. Lousy execution; the whales didn’t cooperate. We looked for two hours never seeing a whale. Then just as we were giving up hope, we found whales, big ones. When they surfaced you could see them blow, with a mist of breath rising 10-15 feet into the air. It was a very primal feeling seeing minke and finback whales in their natural state. They’d sound, diving for 5-6 minutes. The only trace left was the “footprint” of body oils from their breath. Suddenly you would see them surface and blow. They’d remain near the surface breathing for a few minutes and sound again. We watched 4 or 5 sounding cycles, some very close. Then the captain had to turn and head back.

Time was approaching for Cindy and Mike to head back and for us to move on. We partied into the late evening, said our good-byes and sadly parted company. Early the next morning we headed Tranquility toward Camden. Cindy and Mike stared later and headed for Vermont. For us, vacation was over and we were back to being two people in love with each other, a boat and boating.

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