08/28/2011, Brattleboro, Vt.
For the past 4-5 days somewhere around 65 million people on the eastern seaboard have been glued to The Weather Channel watching the progress of hurricane Irene. Most of the people in the New England region laughed at the idea that a hurricane would make it this far north...Brattleboro's latitude is 42 51'02"N, which is getting pretty far north. Last night it started raining at 1900...right on schedule. It rained heavily all night and throughout the morning but there didn't seem to be a lot of wind, just a steady, constant downpour. About halfway through making breakfast this morning we lost power and didn't get it back for about 3 hours. The rain let up a little in the mid afternoon and we decided to venture out and see if there was any damage...we didn't really expect to find much because none of us thought the storm was all that bad. As we headed towards the Downtown area of Brattleboro we were greeted by the closing of Main Street where it dips to the Whetstone Brook, Whetstone was now a raging river which basically cut Brattleboro in half. The "Brook" had now flooded a large section of the downtown areas streets, parking lots and stores. It was a very sad sight to see this cute little town now experiencing such devastation. We drove by the Brattleboro Marina and it is basically gone...washed away by flood waters. The rain has now started back up and it appears that there will continue to be additional flooding here in the New England area over the next several days.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the many people who have been effected by this huge storm....God bless.
08/26/2011, Portland, Maine
We just got back from a three day trip to Portland Maine. Portland was not very high on my list of must see cities, however Sharon went to college and lived in Portland for several years and has a lot of friends there, so it soon became a must see place for me. Portland is a very old seaport with much history from the early days of America. Most of the town surrounds a beautiful wind swept bay and harbor and many of the original old buildings have been rehabbed and turned into shops, galleries, bars and LOTS of restaurants. There is very funky, trendy..almost hippie feel to most of the downtown area. Portland was described in one book I read as having " the soul of an artist, the grit of a lobsterman and the hands of a craftsman", I would say that is a pretty accurate description. Portland reminds me of a combination between San Francisco and Ocean Beach (in San Diego).
Although we went to a lot of local, non-tourist areas we did decide one day to take an amphibious bus tour called The Downeast Duck (pic). Two of Sharon's friends, Delaine and Karen, agreed to tag along for a tour of their city. The Downeast Duck turned out to be one of the lamest tours I've ever done. Upon departing for the tour the guild informed us that at certain times during the tour we would be quacking like ducks...he then has us all practice quacking and when we didn't quack loud enough for him he would make us quack again. As we drove thru the beautiful narrow streets of the Old Port section of town, lame-o would constantly yell out over the PA "hey lets give a big quack...quack quack". Everytime we pasted someone he knew he would yell at them and say "quack quack". Delaine and Karen were trying very hard to sink low enough in their seats so no one they knew would see them quacking thru town.
Last night we went to what can only be described as a hole in the wall for a Maine lobster dinner. The restaurant called The Porthole, was located on a working wharf, it is definitely off the tourist routes and it was most likely one of the best places in Portland to enjoy Maine Lobster.
We'll be in Brattleboro for a few days riding out Irene before we leave next week for Boston. Please say a prayer for the people in the path of Irene.
Escaping heat and hurricanes?????
08/24/2011, Portland, Maine
The main reason that I left fled the Sea of Cortez in July was to escape the extremely hot summers that the sea is notorious for. Upon arriving at my Uncle's house in Maryland I was treated to 2 weeks of record breaking heat, most days it was right around 100 degrees. Another big reason for leaving Si Bon was due to the possible (although remote) threat of a hurricane. There have so far been no hurricanes or tropical storms in the sea...however we are now on a hurricane watch here in New England as Irene works her way up the Eastern Seaboard. Yesterday morning as we drove to Portland I kept thinking A HURRICANE IN NEW ENGLAND???? are they freaking kidding me or what. When we stopped for lunch at the very beautiful seaside town of Kennebunkport, I went on line to check a few things and saw that there had just been an earthquake....yes an earthquake...in Washington D.C.. The last time an earthquake of this magnitude hit the East coast was in 1944.
So anyway....here we are in the very interesting town of Portland Maine, we are staying with Shaybo's friend Delaine and her boyfriend Chris and we are getting ready to go exploring. We will be keeping a close eye on Irene and moderating aftershocks from the earthquake....and we'll be happy not to be baking in the heat and hurricane prone Sea of Cortez, or being shaken awake every morning in the earthquake prone Southern California.
Something weird is going on!
It was just about one year ago, that while on a trip to Catalina Island I decided that I needed to feel 100% confident in sailing Si Bon singlehanded. At the time I was single and thinking that I would be able to line up crew members along the way to help me realize my cruising dreams. I quickly learned that crew members may have a situation come up which requires them to leave the boat without being able to give much notice. When you are the owner/captain of the boat you don't have the luxury of just walking away. Sooo I spent the final 6 months of my cruising preparations practicing sailing Si Bon by myself. I took trips around Southern California by myself, I practiced anchoring alone, docking alone, picking up a mooring ball alone and of course sailing alone. When I left the marina and moved onto a mooring ball in San Diego Bay it gave me additional practice of the day to day routines of life on a boat away from a dock without having someone to help me.
As with most things once you practice them enough they get easier and easier, things that at first seemed impossible soon became routine. Docking is probably the biggest challenge, pulling a 42 foot sailboat into a dock and jumping off to tie her up with no one else onboard is lots of fun. I know that my family, friends and my girlfriend worry about me when I have to sail alone...there could be a huge problem if I should fall off the boat with the auto pilot on and not have anyone around to turn off the auto pilot and pick me up. I must admit that this also concerns me...so I ALWAYS wear my life vest, I have a tether and a harness that I am clipped into and I have Jacklines (heavy duty lines that run the length of the boat) which the tether is also clipped into (pic). So in theory if I should happen to fall off Si Bon I would be able pull myself back on board and continue on my merry way. I strongly recommend to anyone preparing to go cruising that you also learn to handle your boat alone, there can be many circumstances that arise which will require that you do so and you might as well be prepared.
All that said, Sharon has made the big decision to join me in late September for what is now going to be our cruise and I am hoping the days of singlehanded sailing will be over for me.
New Yawk City (day 3)
08/15/2011, Da city
We got up early and headed to a small New Yawk cafe we had seen earlier, day had breakfast sandwiches for $3.49...which is a steal in da city. We grabbed a couple ah da sandwiches, chugged down some cawfee and headed to da subway. We shoved our way trew the crowd and hopped on the subway to Lower Manhattan to see the 9/11 site and da financial district.
As we excited the subway station our moods quickly turned somber. Sharon and I both joke around a lot, but as we walked towards Ground Zero we both became very quite. Walking down the same narrow streets that the survivors were seen fleeing the carnage, with the huge clouds of smoke chasing them, was a very sobering moment. The actual site of the World Trade Center is now a beehive of activity, there are several large skyscrapers under construction and other than the obvious hole in the skyline you can't really see much. There is a remembrance wall set up where we spent a few moments in prayer (pic).
We decided dat since we were both in a down mood already, we might as well head over to Wall Street and da New Yawk Stock Exchange...another depressing place lately....not much to see there either. Since we were both sick of wawkin we sat down for a nice lunch over looking da East River and relaxed a little.
At some point we both agreed that we had seen enough of da city for one trip. There was a three-toidy train back to cousin Lara's house and if we hurried....really hurried... we might be able to make it. So off we went, shoving our way trew the *#^*#@ crowds onto the *#$@&% subway, trew Grand Central Station, back to da hotel to get our bags, back down east 42nd Street to Grand Central and on to da three-toidy train....all da way bumpin peoples and given da red light runnin cabbies da one finger New Yawk salute.
Thank God we are now back in Brattleboro, VT, where we will spend the next week relaxing and trying to get rid of our New Yawk accents....and attitudes.
New York City (day 2)
Day two started early, we had booked a harbor cruise the night before and decided to walk from our hotel all the way across Manhattan to the Hudson river, which is where the tour started. The tour we had chosen was to take us all the way around Manhattan. As we left the dock and started slowly edging along the New York waterfront our tour guild began a very informative presentation of the history of New York. We went passed where the Airliner had crash landed in the Hudson River, we passed the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks (more on that tomorrow), we saw Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (pic). We then turned and continued up the East River going under the Brooklyn Bridge and passed the many different boroughs that make up New York.
On the way back to our hotel we decided that we were sick of walking and ready to take on the New York subway. Not really knowing what to do we decided to go to the very nice lady at the ticket booth and see if we could get a 1 or 2 day pass. she explained in her very New Yawk manner.. " WE DON'T HAVE NO ONE OR TWO DAY TICKETS...NOW WHAD DA YA WANT".
Next on the agenda was date night. We had decided that we would go to Radio City Music Hall to see the limited engagement of Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana. We quickly changed clothes, grabbed a NYC cab and headed out to a marvelous meal at Uncle Jack's Steak House before walking to Radio City Music Hall (RCMH). Once again not really knowing what to expect I was truly in awe as we entered the theater. RCMH is the largest indoor theater in the world, it is by far the most elegant, exquisite theater I have ever been in, and a perfect choice for this spectacular show. As we wandered around looking at all of the memorabilia and artwork in the theater I thought to myself..the theater itself is worth the price of admission. Cirque du Soleil always puts on an inspiring act...but this was best the best one I've seen. The reviews describe it as a " spectacular, acrobatic rock opera" and that might just be an understatement. As we headed back to our hotel down 5th Avenue we both agreed that it had been a truly rememberable day.
Stay tuned tomorrow for our last day in New Yawk...which by da way, we are now gettin around very well in.