The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. Before leaving Massachusetts after Suzanne’s events in Plymouth and Cambridge, we dallied in Mashpee for an estrogen fix (no, not for me!). Husbands will understand that this term means WOMEN’S CLOTHES SHOPPING!!!! While My Lovely Bride searched for feminine attire, I walked the puppies and took some photos. This playful sign over a local watering hole caught my eye; it is a modification of Rene Descartes’ classic Latin phrase “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am”; the Latin word imbibo translates as “I drink”.
A short drive south from Cape Cod found us at a small, six-site Navy campground in Newport, Rhode Island, right on Narragansett Bay. Suzanne and I had both been stationed there for OCS, and I had five other short assignments there for schools and a shipboard tour on a frigate. We met one of Suzanne’s sister officers, Commander Diane Stewart, for dinner at Jo’s Bistro on Memorial Drive and had a delicious dinner and great conversation; regrettably, Der Blogmeister forgot his camera and thus the event has not been immortalized digitally… sigh. But we did remember to bring the camera when we went sailing with retired naval aviator Ben Riggs on his 31 foot Swedish Albin sloop. Here we see Ty in his element at the tiller on a perfect Newport afternoon – 75 degrees, 15-18 kt southwesterly breeze, and a light chop in Newport Harbor. Ben keeps his lovely boat “shipshape and Bristol fashion”, a traditional term for the highest level of maintenance and upkeep. In fact, we had run by his slip the day before just to make sure we knew where to meet him, and he was in the water with mask and snorkel cleaning her bottom (that’s a boat term…)
Not that I was hogging the tiller or anything, but here we see a lovely Winch Wench grinding on a jib sheet winch. Proper sail trim is important for efficient sailing and looking professional on the water, and Suzanne is proving that she knows what she is doing; after all, her how-to sailing book, “It’s Your Boat, Too; A Woman’s Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water” is still a very popular book for women sailors.
“Size does matter”, at least in boat waterline length. In spite of our well-trimmed sails and superb steering, we were “eaten up” by this much larger Hinckley sloop. Built in Southwest Harbor, Maine, Hinckleys are among the best quality yachts in the world. This boat was smoking along close-hauled at 8 knots when she passed us.
Our last event in Newport was dinner at a fish place in Melville Marina with Ben and His Lovely Bride, artist and author Lee Thornton. Some of you may remember the glowing endorsement Suzanne gave of Lee’s excellent book on her near death experience, “Through Heaven’s Gate and Back”. The dinner was a superb end to our short visit to Newport, one of our favorite places in the world. We have occasionally talked of living in Newport, but we know that July, August and September weather are not exactly representative of the temperatures expected the rest of the year. In fact, when my Newport-based frigate went to sea into the North Atlantic in January, we had to have sailors with baseball bats on deck beating ice off the gun mounts to keep the ship’s stability within limits.
Our next event was in Morristown, NJ. After an “Isn’t that interesting” trip down I-95 until we found all southbound lanes closed in Connecticut, forcing us to divert up to Hartford on small roads, we arrived at our campground between the towns of Flanders and Netcong, New Jersey, to find almost all of the sites filled with oil and gas pipeline workers from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Evidently there is a major pipeline being built or repaired nearby; most of the trucks in the campground were rigged with big portable pipeline welding equipment. Pipeline welders make $35 an hour, a good wage with lots of work (especially in North Dakota, where the wages are even higher). Most of their RVs had single guys aboard, but several had kids from toddler size to teenagers. I thought that the guys might get rowdy on Saturday night, but it was one of the quietest weekends we’ve enjoyed, far more sedate than our 4th of July experience when we had to call security at oh-dark-thirty because of noisy kids and adults. I spoke to Missy, a young mom of two from Monroe, Louisiana. She said, “I’ll apologize in advance for my youngsters; they can be terrors.” Her kids were just fine, very polite, even calling me “Sir”. I seem to be called that more and more frequently these days, even by guys in their 40s and 50s; must be due to my distinguished visage…
On our first night in the Garden State, we had dinner with Jill and John Scott. Jill was instrumental in getting Suzanne invited to the Center for Spiritual Living (CSL) in Morristown. John works in Manhattan, which means a two-hour daily commute (each way). They were a treat, making us feel very welcome and finding a great Thai/Indonesian restaurant for our meal. I enjoyed the Indonesian nasi goreng immensely. John is also a wine enthusiast, and brought two fabulous bottles from his collection (the restaurant was BYOB; I haven’t seen that in quite awhile); the St. Innocent Pinot Noir is now one of my all-time favorites.
Sunday found us at the Morristown CSL for Suzanne’s Making the Connection event. We were greeted by MCSL’s inspirational minister, Rev. Frankie Timmers. Frankie was particularly kind to allow Rudy and Gretchen to hang out in her office (in their kennels, of course) during the Sunday service.
Suzanne’s Making the Connection event was well-attended by a friendly and enthusiastic group of spiritually-minded people. Elizabeth Magee is to be particularly commended for bringing almost every member of her New Jersey family! In fact, she also invited us to dinner at her niece Michelle’s beautiful home only one mile from CSL. It was a real treat.
Finally, a comment on the Name That Girl Contest. I received many, many entries, some serious, some whimsical, some downright naughty… I just received another entry tonight, so will delay announcing the winner until the next blog. But I can say that as I write this blog post, My Lovely Bride is in Rhinebeck, NY, at the Omega Institute, while I am here in the coach in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with Faithful Puppies Rudy and Gretchen, and a shapely hula dancer (who only wiggles when it’s sunny) to keep me company…