Leaving Cups & a Road Trip to Boston

Leaving Nine of Cups is never easy. We know she'll pout while we're gone and so we do our best to make sure she's as comfortable as possible before we leave. We were whirling dervishes trying to get everything ready. I took care of laundry, packing, cleaning and a host of little chores like putting on windscreen, compass and winch covers and packing away cockpit instrumentation (GPS, handheld autopilot control, VHF, etc) down below. The repaired transmission gear reduction case with new rear seal was delivered around 10am and David got right to work on re-installing it. We each had our list of to-do's and wasted no time in ticking them off one by one.

virginia to boston

We had arranged for a one-way rental car so we could drive from Virginia to Boston. In order to minimize the rental days, we decided we'd pick up the rental at 6pm, load the car and then leave in the wee hours of the morning for the 9-10 hour drive to Boston. We were hoping to avoid most of the traffic and arrive in Boston early enough to offload all of our stuff at Lin's and then return the rental car by 6pm on the other end. We were told Avis would deliver the car, but found out after prepaying the reservation that they did not. The pick-up location was only about 3.5 miles away, so we left at 4:30 pm and got our exercise walking along Battlefield Boulevard to pick up the car.

There was a special on SUVs for our one-way rental and since we'd planned to offload a ton of stuff from Cups and bring it to Lin's, we took advantage thinking we'd have plenty of room. It took well over an hour to pack the SUV and there was barely enough room for driver and passenger when we were done loading. Cups, however, was feeling much lighter and her waterline showed it.

We were up at 0330 and on the road by 0415. An early morning mist shrouded the river and rose dreamily along the water's edge as we left the boatyard. We were across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel before the sun rose. The terrain of the Eastern Shore is flat and low and very rural. Water smells were replaced by earthy smells of newly mown hay and cut grass and in one area, onions. We saw endless trucks of chicken cages, empty and full, heading to and from the local Tyson and Purdue chicken processing plants. Those smells were quite distinctive and conjured up unpleasant thoughts of massive chicken slaughter and feather-plucking.

We passed up exciting opportunities like the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Red Neck Fireworks, Turner Wildlife Sculpture (in bronze and silver) and Frankie & Tammy's Fried Chicken. We were on a mission to get north. We drove on and on … into Maryland, then Delaware and finally stopped on the endless New Jersey Turnpike for a stretch, pit stop and coffee (our second stop of the day for such purposes). We couldn't help think about the distance we were covering. The trip was ~570 miles … a long day trip by car at 60-70 mph … and over a week in Nine of Cups at 60 nm/day on the ICW.

The traffic in New York was heavy, but moving as we drove across the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. The New York city skyline is always exciting to see. We remembered sailing past Ground Zero and the still-smoldering Twin Towers back in late September 2001. We were out of New York and into Connecticut. We stopped once more for a quick lunch in Norwich, then sped into Rhode Island and up I-95N to Massachusetts. Exit 9A to East Walpole was a welcome sight.

David backed up to Lin's cellar door and the unloading process was quick and efficient. We headed to Norwood Airport and the Avis drop-off office and finished the paperwork just as Lin drove in to pick us up. Whew! A long day, but we were ready to start a little land life and celebrate the 4th of July.

Goodbye, Boston - Hello, Las Vegas

Traveling from east to west in the USA is usually pretty easy. The time zones are in our favor and there are lots of flights. If you're interested in a cheap ticket, however, the route becomes a bit more circuitous and the flight schedules are a bit more sparse. There are direct flights to Las Vegas from Boston, but in the interest of the budget, we chose a Southwest Airline flight with a 4-hour layover in Austin, Texas. There were cheaper flights, but they charge for baggage and some (Spirit Airlines, for instance) even charge extra for carry-ons which ends up costing more than the SW flight we booked. There's one thing when you have to pay for your pillow and blanket or be denied a cup of coffee on a 6-hour flight if you've already indulged in a free OJ, but charging for carry-ons? Yikes! flying southwest

Lin dropped us at Boston's Logan Airport around 10:30 for our 12:30 flight. We had emptied our luggage of all the souvenirs we'd brought from our travels and then refilled it with all the presents we received plus some of the thrift shop goodies we'd purchased. The luggage was definitely crammed full and as heavy as it had been when we arrived. Miraculously, there were NO boat parts packed (although David's project, supplies and equipment took up a bit of space). This is a bad omen for our eventual trip back to Trinidad.

boston harbor

We sipped Dunkin Donuts coffee (Boston runs on Dunkin!) while waiting. No hassles; no stress. The all-seats-full Boeing 737-800 left on time and we arrived in foggy, rainy Austin, Texas about four hours later after an uneventful (best kind) flight. We spent our layover time listening to “Austin sound” live C&W music, checking out the airport artwork and eating BBQ for dinner. I was hoping to chat with Willie Nelson or Michael Dell (CEO, Dell Computer), but neither showed up.

boston to austin

We were delayed a few minutes by the weather, but arrived pretty much on time in Las Vegas. David's sisters, Mary and Karen, were waiting for us at baggage claim. Lots of hugs and kisses ensued and all of our luggage arrived promptly. The weather outside was cold and windy … are we really in Las Vegas?

Lots to do here. David's already got his list of boat parts to order and projects to complete, not to mention house projects for Mary. I have several articles due and a long list of non-boat chores to accomplish. A busy time ahead … what's new? Certainly beats being bored.

welcome to las vegas

Burning Up in Boston

My time in Boston has flown by in a whirlwind of holiday socializing and sister-izing. It's been grand, but it's time to head back home … to David and Nine of Cups. All the ordered boat parts arrived in plenty of time to stuff them into the two 23kg (50#) duffels that have been sitting on Lin's basement floor, slowly filling to capacity with every UPS delivery. I weighed the unwieldy duffels on Lin's bathroom scale. I had an ounce or so to spare in each one, but I had not yet packed any of my clothes! weighing the duffels in boston

Before leaving, I promised Lin I'd help to take down all the Christmas decorations and stow them away. It's a full-day's job, so I packed the duffels early and we planned our last full day together as a de-decorating day. We hauled out all the storage boxes and I de-ornamented the tree while Lin carefully wrapped each precious bauble in tissue paper and packed it away till next year. Then the lights came down and all that was left was a bare tree and millions of dry pine needles on the hardwood floor. We wrapped the tree in a sheet to contain it … a shroud of sorts … and dragged it down the stairs to the chiminea in Lin's woods leaving a trail of needles behind in our track. As is Lin's tradition, we planned to burn the tree. Goodbye to the old year and hello to the new.

burning the tree

There always seems to be one stubborn ornament that remains hidden on the tree. This year it was a brass elephant stuck in the middle of the tree, close to the trunk. As I lopped the branches off the tree to add them to the chiminea, there he was. It made me wonder how he had migrated to the inner branches to hide. Surely being stowed away till next year was preferable to be tossed into the fire!

last stubborn ornament

We sat in wooden chairs on this crisp, cold day, sipping hot cider and rum, avoiding the smoke and cinders from the burning tree. We walked through the woods and reminisced about the challenging year past, talked about how lucky we were to have each other to share these challenges and what 2015 might hold for us.

sisters in the woods together

As we say goodbye to the Christmas tree and 2014, don't forget First Foot Day. It's celebrated  on New Year's Day in several countries including Greece and Scotland. The first person to set foot in your home after the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day is thought to bring good luck. It's not usually a resident family member and the person cannot be in the house at the stroke of midnight. The visitor usually brings some traditional gifts like bread, a coin and perhaps some whiskey or wine signifying that you'll have enough to eat, drink and spend for the upcoming year.

Just a hint … if you haven't checked out Days and Ways to Celebrate 2015, it's available here in .pdf format that will work well on you computer or tablet, or in Kindle format at Amazon. It's a whole year's worth of celebrations … day by day!