Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vacation. Take II


I don’t know if you guessed it yet, but we don’t usually have much of a plan when we travel. We like to take off, drive around, and see what we can see. It may mean missing out on the more classic sights of a town, but boy do we take delight when we find some obscure historic plaque or an interesting place like Mount Baldy in Illinois which moves four feet a year. In Cape May we came across Orr Street (an alley really) and a whole churchyard full of relatives of mine right by the front walk. All because we were just driving around looking at the architecture and ducked down an alley.

In our driving over the next few days, we found many fascinating and probably forgotten or unnoticed bits of New England. We fed our fascination for bridges, architecture, odd houses, man hole covers, and what we call “hysterical markers”. You know, those stone or metal plaques by the side of the road announcing the spot where so-and so did such and such. Like one that said George Washington stopped near there about 20 times including once about which he wrote in his diary “Stayed at the So-and-So Inn last night where my sick horse died”. Now that deserved a hysterical marker wouldn’t you say? Or at the dam where we found a Warning sign stating “RISING WATERS - Be constantly alert for a quick rise in the river. Water upstream may be released suddenly at any time.” This was placed at the top of a steep cliff overlooking the riverbed under the falls. Take a look at the pictures I posted May 26 again. Think the water will get that high? Who can say?

Yes. We’ll turn around for a good hysterical marker any day.

After a few days of town hopping on the coast, it was on to The Berkshires for the last leg of our vacation. Saturday was spent at the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Festival. Such a lovely bunch of laid back sheepie folk. It’s more intimate than MDSW and I could navigate the paved site quite easily on my scooter. The elevator to the fiber competition exhibits was apparently broken (it was blocked off) but Bobby said there wasn't much besides the fleeces so I wasn't that disappointed. There were Sheepdog trials all day and watching the working dogs was quite fun, especially when folks explained the finer points of judging to me. It broke my heart to see a good dog get a contrary sheep who just wouldn’t stay with the other two in the group but chose to run back to the pen and ruin everyone’s high marks. I love seeing the animals – sheep, goats, llamas. There weren’t any alpacas at this fair. Waaaah! I did get to see some shearing and the 4H showmanship contests. It’s serious business for these kids. I said to Bobby, next there will be Alpaca and Llama competitions at these functions. Woo Hoo !

In fibre, the lean at this fair is definitely toward spinning and weaving. Wheels and looms for sale were plentiful as well as all the trappings. But yes, there was yarn. I bought some lovely white wool to pet for a while and some crazy soft multi wool on sale. Bobby bought me a little sheep pin to remember the day. I put it on my hat with my Ravelry pins - oh yes, there were Ravelry folk there. It is an online group that is the darling of the modern knitter. I recognized Ravelers and was recognized by my Ravelry gear – very cool although there was no formal gathering of the Ravelry clan as there had been at Maryland’s festival. All in all a great day.

And did I mention the lamburgers? And the $1 hand dipped ice cream cones?

Ah food. Vacations are all about food. My staple during the trip was Chicken Corn Chowder. Bobby automatically ordered it when we sat down in just about any restaurant. And then there was fish and shrimp and clams and scallops and lobster and . . . you get the picture.

In Portsmouth I finally got my favorite New England food. Lobstah Roll. It’s a simple food, but mmmm mmmm good. The cheaper roadside stand version is lobster claw meat in a very light dressing stuffed in a hot dog roll. The better restaurant version boasts huge chunks of meat and shredded meat overflowing a soft sub roll. (For those in the know – think Captain Harvey’s steak subs with lobster instead) The State Street Saloon waitress served up a freaking huge portion and the first real New Hampshire accent we had encountered. Between Lobstah Roll and the Chowdah, I didn’t starve while in New England. Then there were the clams. I never really liked clams until this trip. I never really had clams until this trip. True fresh clams are amazing and not like the rubber I always associated them with when I got them at home. I guess it’s like ordering a crab cake in Kansas. Wouldn’t be prudent.

We had a nice dinner at our hotel in The Berkshires the first night and Bobby asked two of the waiters for recommendations for the next night. That led us to Asters after the Mass S&W for his birthday. Scallops big as hockey pucks that were sooooo tender . . . like buttah. Chef Reda knows his stuff. We also discovered Ninety Nine, a fine reliable New England chain. Add several ice cream parlors whose names escape me to our list of stops on this trip. We can thank Jill for a lot of our gastronomic pleasures. Jill is the voice on our Garmin GPS. Yupper! She has a name. You can choose male or female and from two or three accents. I like Jill. Punch in “ice cream” and up comes any establishment with those exact letters in the name for miles and miles. This includes things like “The Clarice Creamery and Dairy Farm”. She sure is entertaining our Jill is.

F.Y.I. Did you know that Dunkin Donuts is the Waffle House of New England? There’s one on every corner. Literally.

On Sunday we packed up and drove home from Massachusetts. It took about 11 hours but we did manage to stop for a great dinner at an Irish pub which served up a tasty Shepherd’s Pie and some Fish and Chips for Bobby. Then home again, home again, jiggedy jig.

So when’s our next vacation?

Monday, May 26, 2008

We went on VACATION in New England

We had a long awaited wonderful time and my stamina actually improved each day as I had to walk into restaurants, rest stops and more. My Physical Therapist will be so proud of me. We spent more time with each other than taking pictures, but here's a few to prove we were there.

First it was the Carlisle Import and Replicar Show in Pennsylvania. Some very cool cars there and I was thinking of my pal Sco :) Cooperstown wasn't far so we decided to head there on Day Two for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Geez. You woulda thunk we were in New York there was so much focus on The Hated Yankees. The actual "hall" where the inductee’s plaques were was rather unimpressive to me. Kinda plain and empty. It did however inspire a kind of hush over the visitors so I guess it was appropriate.

The next day we set up a home base in Seabrook, Mass and went to explore Plum Island. I got to use Bobby's birthday present (camera) to get some bird shots. I may have to keep his present. Turns out the elusive Plover was mating and nobody could access the beaches. I did get some nice pix of some kind of cute bird everyone else was snapping away at. When I looked it up at home though - not a Plover. I wonder how many other folks bothered to look it up?

At the suggestion of the young and clueless girl who drew my blood that day (yeeees, even on vacation I had to get THAT done) we had dinner at DiMillo's a retired ferry boat down at the waterfront. Nice ambiance for a restaurant, but I couldn't get just a stuffed tail - had to get the whole lobster and I didn't feel like messing with it. I opted for a Lobster Pie. Sounded like a Shepherd's Pie and I love those. The lump lobster was 90% claw (okaaaay, the menu said "lobster meat") and the "crumbs" on top were mush. I wouldn't order it again. I should have had the Lobster Roll - the guy behind Bobby had one and it looked lovely. Lesson learned: don't ask people who admit they don't know the area for a recommendation for dinner.

More on the rest of the trip later. The pizza just got here and Bobby says I gotta eat.

OH YEAH !!! Dad is home and doing just fine. Thanks to all for the prayers and concern.