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Newport, RI; Alpacas and Hinckleys! Northern Virginia; Appalachian State University; Boone, NC; An Embarrassing Moment

Bar Harbor was great for kayaking and lobster, but it was good to get away from the mosquitoes when we turned the bow of the coach southwest and headed for our next destination, Scarborough, Maine, south of Portland. The weather was beautiful and our 15-mile bike ride through the marsh and pines was bug-free! 

A few hours south were our old Navy stomping grounds in Newport, Rhode Island. Between us, we had about five years of time in Newport, one of the most delightful summer vacation spots in the world. (Oh, and they also have lobsters!) On arrival, we went for a long walk around the naval base to see what had changed… a lot! One of the new buildings was the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center. Both Suzanne and I had taught the subject, and I wish that it was mandatory for US senators… after having watched a bit of the circus called the Judiciary Committee, they could use a refresher course… but I digress…

We had an invitation from old sailing friends, Jim and Judy McGuire, to visit their farm in Wickford. Imagine our surprise when Judy, who is a wild bird rehabilitator, asked, “Would you like to meet our alpacas?” The two in the back are mother and daughter.  All three have the sweetest dispositions you could imagine, and faces that would melt the coldest heart!

Because of their warm fleece coats, the alpacas had been shorn for the summer. They look a bit odd having been trimmed, but it must be a lot more comfortable.

Sailing is in Suzanne’s blood and mine, so we were thrilled when we got an invitation from Ben Riggs, a retired Navy fighter pilot, to take us out on his Swedish Albin 30 sloop. Here we are under great sailing conditions off Newport on Narragansett Bay, with a big Hinckley 45 footer off our quarter. Newport offers some of the premier sailing in the world, and many circumnavigators start their voyages here. Racing is extremely popular, since the America’s Cup races were held here for over 50 years.

Ben is a great racing sailor, but even his skills couldn’t keep the much larger Hinckley astern. (Size does matter…) She is certainly a beautiful yacht. In fact, we had driven by the Hinckley yard in Southwest Harbor, Maine, when we were in Bar Harbor. (I really need to start buying lottery tickets.) Experienced sailors may note that her mainsail is luffing a bit; that’s due to the fluky winds that occur when the laminar wind flow over a sail is disrupted by another boat just upwind.

I was just finishing a long walk at our campground along Burma Road north of the base when I saw a strange vehicle on the nearby train tracks – a “rail bike”. They come in 2 and 4 seaters, and are quite popular amongst the tourists here. They are also used in Oregon, in the Adirondacks and in Korea.

We left the cool Newport weather and headed south to northern Virginia, where Suzanne had an event at Unity of Fairfax. We had dinner with our good friends Colleen and Doug Smith and Kathy and Andy McMannis from Helping Parents Heal, and got a taste of 21st Century Washington, DC, traffic, which was at least twice as bad as when we lived there in the 80s and 90s.  Unfortunately, our staff photographer was off for a few nights, probably hunting nutria in Louisiana…

I should reintroduce the members of our team, for new readers. Here is Suzanne, also known as My Lovely Bride, AKA MLB…

Our Senior Resident Canine is Rudy the Sailing Wiener Dog, now age 13, getting a bit grey around the muzzle… he has been mistaken for a short Irish setter by several young women attracted to his handsome visage. (Yep, he’s a Babe Magnet!)

This Lovely Young Canine Lady is Gretchen, age 12, who when approached by other dogs, thinks she is a Rottweiler… although normally, she is very timid and serene. When I come back sweaty from PT, I lie down on a yoga pad and she licks the sweat off my face. MLB thinks its gross, but Gretchen and I know better.

Our next stop, a bittersweet one, was at Appalachian State University, in Boone, NC, where our daughter Susan had been a student. A retired English Professor, Dr. Tom McGowan, had learned of Susan’s Marine Corps service and death on active duty. 

Being a former Marine himself, Dr. McGowan arranged for Susan’s name to be placed on the memorial at the university. Susan is the only woman on that list. He invited us down for a visit, and we had the privilege of meeting him, visiting the memorial, getting a personal tour of the campus, and having lunch in the student union. It meant a lot to us, and I know Susan was there watching over our shoulder. 

While in Boone, I went for a hike, and passed this herd of goats on a woodpile… I’m not sure of the exact meaning of why they are standing on a woodpile, but am sure it makes perfect “goat sense”…

Farther down the road was a tiny chapel in back of a private home. It warms my heart to see such dedication to one’s faith in a very remote, rural area…

Even though I don’t watch TV shows about flipping houses, I found this fixer-upper that has promise… (of what, I’m not sure…)

Finally, in the hopes that she doesn’t read this before it goes to press, I have to expose (in a matter of speaking) one of My Lovely Bride’s most embarrassing moments. We were at a military campground, and we had no plans to interact with anyone all day.  Suzanne decided to wear a shirt that was given to her as a gift by a friend, but which she told me privately she could never wear in public.  Later in the morning we found out we had to change campsites, so while I dealt with the bus and the car, Suzanne went into the campground office to check in. There were four young “redneck” guys standing around chatting with the desk clerk, and when they saw Suzanne, they all gave her what she described to me as sh__-eating grins”. She didn’t realize what that was all about until she looked down and realized she had forgotten to change her shirt…


  • Jeanmarie Randall
    Posted October 2, 2018 at 7:14 am

    As they say in the South… Ty you're a hoot!

  • Beverly G
    Posted October 2, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Great blog, Ty. Still laughing at the shirt 🙂

  • Unknown
    Posted October 2, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Your trip through New England brought back sweet memories. You will probably be in DeeP trouble because of the "Shirt".

    Lobsters Forever Crusty

  • Colette
    Posted October 4, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Monument memorilization of your daughter Susan along with her fellow classmates at Appalachian State is a bittersweet reminder of profound sacrifice and commitment made to protect the freedom of all Americans. Inspires thought provoking gratitude.. Very touching.

  • Steve Blade
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:04 am

    Thanks for sharing this informative blog with us. I really enjoying reading the whole where I am really amazed with the fun you had here, pictures says a lot here. We are a student accommodation provider student moving to newsport often ask us about the life style and details of the city, your blog will surely answer all the question. I will refer it to them.

    Thanks & RegardsStudent Accommodation Newsport


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