Thursday, September 30, 2010

Schooner pics

There's a fleet of about 12 schooners sailing from Rockland and Camden, Maine, during the summer. We always sail on the Heritage. We chose it because it has no engine - only a yawlboat to get us out of the harbor and back in - and in case we get becalmed. We're on the boat for six days and nights. We sail during the day and anchor each evening in an island cove. The itinerary is always different, depending on the wind and weather.

This is a typical view on the water.

Everyone is needed to haul up the sails in the morning, but the rest of the time you can do what you want to help - or do nothing. On deck it's pretty relaxing.

We eat very well. Lunch is on deck. It's always soup made with night-before leftovers, plus fresh baked bread.

One day there's a lobster bake on a "deserted" island. We carry the lobsters in the schooner until their big day.

Art and I ate five lobsters between us.

I spent time in the galley interviewing the crew because I'm writing about them. But in the evenings, we can read, or play cards or board games. Usually everyone goes to bed by 9 p.m. We're tired from all the sun and sailing.

A few of us went rowboating one night. To set our rowing pace we sang the Hokey Pokey.

On a cruise like this everyone gets to know each other.

We've signed up to sail again next September.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I've Learned in Maine

So, we've been here for 15 days, with two to go. Here's what I've learned so far.

I love it when it rains at night and then clears up in the morning to sunny skies instead of lingering for days. I love how fast the leaves change color. I love listening to the foghorn and the single whistle of the Peaks Island ferry departing on its 15-minute run to Portland. I love walking in villages and in the countryside and along the ocean and listening to birdsongs we don't have at home. I love no traffic and people getting around on bicycles or golf carts or feet. I love the public library with its comfortable sights and sounds and its Internet access. I love leaving the door and the bicycles unlocked. I love lobster and the regional accents of Mainers.

I've reconfirmed for the umpteenth time that I need more social interaction than my husband Art does. When we're relaxing on vacation, having no garden or garage projects, he reads for hours. I read for a shorter time, then try to strike up a conversation. He continues to read. Plus, radio and TV are distractions he can't tune out. I have finally realized his silence has nothing to do with me, but with his personal preference for quiet downtime. Sometimes it feels like I'm getting the silent treatment, but that's an old childhood tape playing. As my sister reminded me last night, it's my issue. Art is just reading in silence.

So, I've learned I should never travel without my laptop, even if there's no Internet access. I could have written this week about the crew on the schooner, instead of next week when I'm back home. I could have played games to occupy myself. I could have brought along a few DVDs, and rented them, and watched them with headphones on. I could have brought an MP3 player and listed to the radio through those same headphones.

I've learned it's fun to use public transportation to get around, even on Sunday when it's limited. Renting a car for a day, or taking a taxi, feels like cheating and would be expensive to boot.

I've learned I still love Maine, but if I lived here for six months to a year I'd need to be in a place with more than two thousand people and I would need to buy some wool sweaters and some longjohns and some snow boots.

I'm thinking ahead to our Monday travel home: feet to ferry, ferry to dock, taxi or bus to bus station, bus to Logan airport, plane to Seattle. About 13 hours in transit, including wait times. I need to load up my Kindle with another book or two, make sure it and my cellphone are charged up. It's time to go home, and I'm ready. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peaks Island, Maine - Day 3

We walked four miles around the island this morning and saw everything from wild coastline (the east side of the island looks out at the Atlantic Ocean) to beach homes both seasonal and year-round, to cozy cottages. Most people are clearing off the island for the season, but I understand about 800 hardy souls are year-rounders. There's a huge tree in our yard that was green two days ago and now is about a quarter red and orange. It happens so fast!

One downside of being away from my computer is that, when I log on from a library, I have time only to check email, Facebook, and my blog. Maybe write a little. But no time to check out what all of you have to say. It feels I'm out of touch with the online community.

Tomorrow we take the ferry into Portland. We'll stop at the LLBean outlet in downtown Portland. On the schooner cruise last week, I was chilly on the first day, so I've been encouraged to buy polypro long johns. Without a car on this trip, we won't be going to the big store in Freeport, but maybe I'll luck out at the outlet.

I like not having a to-do list on vacation!

Monday, September 20, 2010

In from the island

Our six-day schooner cruise was profoundly relaxing. Good food, gorgeous sailing, lobster on a deserted island, 26 fun people from around the country, plus five crew members about whom I'll be writing a short piece when we get home. Art took many pictures which I'll go through before I post a few. This was our fourth trip out on the Heritage. I can't recommend the trip more highly. Check out the videos at

We took the Mid-Coast bus to Portland yesterday, caught a taxi to the Casco Bay ferry dock and walked on for the 15-minute run to Peaks Island, where I had a second lobster dinner yesterday. Usually I can manage three such dinners before I'm "all lobstered out". One more to go.

Many windows in our home exchange house - one view of Casco Bay with the Portland skyline beyond, the other to sea. I can hear gulls and waves and not much else. What a retreat! Our home exchange partners Mark and Sally are settled into our house in Washington State. I hear it's pouring rain there. Sorry for them, but glad to be in sunny Maine!

Today we caught the ferry back into Portland to visit the farmers market for vegetables, and we'll be leaving the Portland Public Library, where I am now, for the larger grocery store (Hanneford's) for meat and whatever else we need, before we head back to the island.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Coastal Coffee House

We're in Searsport, Maine, visiting friends. Yesterday we flew in an Alaska Airlines 737 from Seattle to Boston, and in a Cape Air 9-passenger Cessna from Boston to Rockland, Maine. Friends Beth and Brian picked us up. Last night we slept under a comfortable in a little Amish-built house on their property. Tomorrow evening we board the schooner Heritage in Rockland for our six-day sail.

This morning we had breakfast in a local cafe. We were welcomed by a dozen locals introduced to us by Brian. Best Belgian waffles I've ever eaten, two cups of wonderful French vanilla coffee, several cribbage games going on. I found out that every person in the cafe comes from somewhere else. All the long-time Maine residents eat in the cafe across the street!

For some reason, every time we come to Maine - half a dozen times in the last ten years - it calls my name. I'm chatting with people on this visit. I think I'd like to live here for a year - trade houses with another family who'd like to experience the Pacific Northwest. Now that I'm not working, that's a possibility.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We could do these!

We're getting ready for our trip to Maine. We leave Friday morning, and I have loose ends to take care of: (1) Putting together an executor's binder, just in case - it's been on my computer for ages but I've finally printed it out; (2) Making sure I have all our Maine travel details in a folder - we're going without a car and using public transportation instead, spending six days on a schooner and then seven days on an island; (3) Cleaning out the refrigerator - we're doing a home exchange with the couple who owns the island house; (4) Thinking about how I'll get six days worth of clothing into one carry-on bag - we'll be on a sailboat with no washer and dryer; (5) Getting ready to clean up the front porch and the back deck to welcome our home exchange partners.

I was interrupted by my own curiosity about future trip possibilities. After exploring multiple websites, I found two on Exploritas. I've read the itineraries to my husband Art, and he agrees that these two are what we're looking for, for places we've talked about visiting: (1) Journey of a Lifetime: Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Next spring, maybe. And (2) Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow. The following spring, maybe. These trips cost more than our usual ones, but they motivate me to be frugal, to take fewer trips, closer to home, using timeshares or home exchanges.

Between the time I quit my job in June, and next January, we'll have taken eight trips. I must have been travel starved. By January I should be ready to stay home more of the time, so we'll be able to save for the big ones.

I hope.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Missing Chicken

At dusk last night I heard hammering next door by the chicken coop. I walked downstairs and crossed the yard. "Jason, what are you guys doing?"

Our neighbor Jason told me that just before daylight there'd been a commotion in the chicken coop. When he came outdoors to investigate, 16 hens, very upset, were peering into our yard. There should have been 17 hens, but one was missing. So Jason was securing the fence again.

We discussed the predator possibilities. A coyote or raccoon? No feathers lying around, indicative of a struggle. A cat? Ditto. (I knew my cat, Larisa, had been asleep on the foot of our bed at the time, so I felt some relief.) A person? "No," Jason said. "The girls are familiar with people coming around, so they wouldn't make a fuss."

I think it was a bird. An owl, maybe.

My husband Art, after he finished barbequeing, dug out a pellet gun and some other kind of weapon - I can't remember what, and really would rather not think about it - and took them over to Jason for his use just in case. I'm not sure whether Jason and Jennie are into that sort of thing, but Art's heart was in the right place.

I'll be calling over there soon to see if they still have 16 chickens.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


My sister Alyx is visiting from Alaska this weekend. In the past three days, we have found 31 geocaches within six miles of my house. Walked and climbed and slid and foraged in our Washington terrain in search of little Tupperware boxes and metal canisters and bulletlike micro capsules. Found a couple of espresso stands to fortify us. Wandered into Macy's at our regional mall to find a few shirts for her and a winter coat for me. Laughed in delight and confusion at our viewing last night of The Men Who Stare at Goats. Tomorrow Alyx goes home and I get to work on my LONG list of things to do before we leave for Maine on Friday.

Alyx got to pick green beans and squash from our garden and she was as thrilled as I am to see real food going into the steamer and then on to our plates. And thrilled as well at finding ripe blackberries in our neighborhood and along the geocaching trail! I remember when I first moved to this part of the country, it was remarkable to see actual food growing wild. Alyx has decided that if she moves back to the lower 48 from Alaska, she could live in our neck of the woods.

I've moved on to my next ESL module and no longer feel intimated. I do my best and let the rest go. What a concept!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Settling in, finally

Well, I finally wrote up the two damn lesson plans for my ESL class and mailed them to my tutor. I was whining to my husband Art the night before last and he looked up from his paper and said, "Just do what you can and don't try to be perfect." So I did. I've now finished up the last obligatory task for the week.

No, that's not true. I've finished up the last obligatory task I Didn't Want To Do.

I do want to pick up my sister and my cousin at the airport tomorrow for a four-day visit which will include a lot of geocaching. I do want to write on my chiropractor's blog why I'd choose him over any other practitioner in his field. I do want to prepare the squash for the freezer. Yes, I really do. Those little bags of summer taste so good during rainy Januarys!

I do want to work on my balance exercises on my Wii Fit, and sit in my adirondack chair and read a magazine or two, and take a walk in my neighborhood before the sun goes down, and take a 15-minute nap.

No great motivational stuff for me today. I think I'm starting to get the idea it's not a requirement for life. That's probably because I've got multiple people - in real life and online - reminding me of it.

Next week we leave for two weeks in Maine, one of my favorite places on earth. We'll be on a 32-passenger schooner for six days, and then on an offshore island for a week. Slowing, slowing, slow.