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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

It was hard to get moving today…sore from all the walking…but with my Coke and Tylenol I will make it! We again got on the subway, after Schooner did her thing, which is amazing in its own right. Nobody here cares that your dog craps on the sidewalk…just pick it up! And most do!! Anyway, we made our way to Battery Park, via subway, without any glitches or waiting on transfers. Gordon is pretty good at figuring out which tram to take and where to catch it…thank God!!

Once at Battery Park, we picked up our tickets and then helped ourselves to some street vendor hotdogs and Cokes, before getting in the waiting line for the ferry to Lady Liberty! This would be our only food for the next 6 hours (before an ice cream cone on Ellis Island!) The guide books say to allow 5 hours to see both venues but you can see the exhibits and Statue in less time, it’s the “cattle” line for the ferry that takes all the time! Seeing the Statue was awe-inspiring. Though, I wish it could have been by our boat sailing around it!! On the brighter side, however,we did get some good pictures before heading back to the line for the ferry to Ellis Island.

Once we finally got to Ellis,
(2 hours later) we made our way to the information room. This is where you can look up any family members that immigrated here between the years 1892 to 1924. The years after 1924 have been lost! Gordon found his Grandfather, Arthur, but couldn’t find where his father came through. His father was only 6 when he and his mother came here, which should have been 1924, according to what Gordon has been told all these years, but No records were to be found. Anyway, we now have access to the Ellis Island records and can spend more time looking on a rainy day. The restoration done here must have been remarkable; they have made it feel like you are have gone back in time and are waiting to come in as an immigrant. If only the walls could talk! G and I did get his family coat of arms and my “Brewster” coat of arms, suitable for future framing. (Something for you kids to fight over!!) Again we had to get in the “longest” waiting line to return to the City.

We spent some time looking around Battery Park, which is home to the Korean War Memorial, Fort Clinton (NO, NOT BILL lol), World Trade Center Sphere, and the WWII Memorial. Dad would have been proud to see the memorial he gave so much support to, it is quite a tribute. Oh, I forgot to mention the bums and pigeons make Battery Park their home, too!

As we made our way back to the motel, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Yes, I said Mexican!!! They had the best guacamole and homemade chips I have ever tasted, but the ceviche wasn’t so good. Gordon, also discovered a new drink; Cervesa Mordido. It’s 4 oz. of frozen Marguerita in a pilsner glass with dark beer poured over it (it was surprisingly quite refreshing!) I suppose you could say it was Mexican haute cuisine, not the La Fiesta we are use to. So then it was just a short walk to the motel where we were “all” glad to get off our feet!

Monday, September 29, 2008


It’s cloudy, dank and dismal outside and, if that weren’t enough, it’s raining. Not a regular rain with big drops that quickly add up to water, but one of those Midwestern, fall rains that just spit and hiss cold spray into your face and waft wetness over everything else, quickly soaking one to the bone. That’s what we awakened to at 6:00 on Sunday morning, as we made ready to go to the Big Apple; Gotham City; New York City, New York.

The weather forecast had promised that the rain wouldn’t arrive in Philly until late in the afternoon. The cold front, however, made liars out of the weathermen (what a surprise!) and decided to come in about 8 hours early. Fortunately, Kim and I had packed the night before, putting everything in our backpacks. So, when we saw the conditions outside, we had only to dress, throw on our foul weather jackets, grab our umbrellas and make the three-block hike to the subway station. Once underground, we would never be exposed to the elements until our arrival in Manhattan.

Public transportation is a really great thing. Not the cramped, smelly buses that small towns and cities pass off as public transportation, but subways, light rail trains and intrastate passenger rail service; real public transportation. For our trip to NYC, we boarded the subway at about 7:15 AM and rode it for 28 blocks to the center of Philly. At Center City Station, we boarded a South East Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) train, at 7:28 AM, and took it to Trenton, NJ, arriving around 9:15 AM. At Trenton, we had to wait a whole 15 minutes before boarding the New Jersey Transit Authority (NJTA) train that dropped us at Penn Station, in midtown Manhattan, around 10:40 AM. Once in Manhattan, we rode around town on the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) subway system, stopping for a quick lunch in Times Square, and arrived at our hotel, at 51st St. and Lexington Ave., just after 12:00 noon. So, instead of 97 miles by car and two hours behind the wheel in rain and traffic, paying tolls and having to find places to park each day, we just sat back, and for $21 each, left the driving to the engineers on the trains. Boy, do we love Public Transportation!!

With our trip to NYC safely completed, Kim and I checked into our hotel and got rid of our packs. Then, we walked the short distance to Central Park, where we took a horse and carriage ride around the park. After the tour, we walked around the city a bit and finally returned to the hotel and retired to our room around 6:30 PM. There, we spent the rest of the evening looking at brochures and planning the next day’s activities. Tomorrow? Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Can I spell WALK??? I can probably escort any of you around this town by now. We have walked and walked until my legs won’t carry me any more. This morning, we started out walking (about 7seven blocks) until we caught a bus that took us out to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, site of the famous scene in the Rocky movies where Stallone runs up a long, outdoor staircase. We kind of ran up the Museum steps, at least the first 9 steps, (one step more than Stallone did in Rocky) before taking a look around the museum grounds.

From there we headed toward town, down the Franklin Parkway,
with stops at the Rodin Museum, for pictures of Gordon as the “Thinker” and Logan Square, where the Franklin Institute of Science is. Schooner enjoyed the walk and was eager for a rest at the fountain. (We have now walked close to 3 miles not counting the exhibits.)

After a short break at the fountain, we continued walking to the Reading Terminal and “Rick’s” for another great Cheese Steak! After lunch (2:00 pm) we took a tour of the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania. It was built in 1873 and is home to the oldest, continually existing fraternal organization in the U.S. Gordon was in awe! We were each given a special pin to wear from the current Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

Following our tour of the Masonic Temple,

our walk continued past the City Hall and to Macy’s, where we looked at that pipe organ

I mentioned before. When we came out of Macy’s, Gordon struck up a conversation with one of Philly’s finest, a CSI officer!!! He told us all about an officer who had been killed earlier that day, guns, baseball and places to eat and see!! He was really a nice guy and fun to talk to…he didn’t believe we had walked so far and had soooo much farther to walk to get home!!! He told us to be careful and we were on our way to Chinatown (not as big as San Francisco's.) Now it’s getting late (5:00pm) and every place is closing up so we picked up the pace, headed home and called it a day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


We got a fairly early start (for us) and, after a quick bite to eat
we walked up to the Independence Visitor’s Center. It was only 9 blocks away!! At the Visitors Center we got all of the tourist stuff, including the first of the many pressed pennies we’d get in Philly. We also stopped for our first “Philly Cheese Steak“ at Campo’s before getting on a Tour bus to see the town.,

The bus took us on a route that highlighted most of Philadelphia and we took notes of where we wanted to go back to and what we wanted to see. A tour bus is cool if you get a knowledgeable guide who also gives you information not normally mentioned on the tour… like where Mannequin was filmed, where the largest pipe organ in the world is located, where the first flavor of ice cream (tomato) was made, what fire protection insurance plaques look like and the location of William Penn’s naughty statue!! (It's only his hand ...really!) It was fun and very interesting!!

After the bus tour, we got off at the center of the city, near Independence Square. From there, we went walking and visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Bourse House, (all of which had pressed pennies to collect!) before walking back to the boat exhausted!!!

The rain and wind, which had been forecast on all of the networks, started just as we arrived at boat. I figure we walked close to 5 miles today so, since the weather looked bad, we just had some soup on board before being rocked to sleep, courtesy of the wind!!!

All in all, it was a really great day for Gordon to celebrate his 61st birthday!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Tuesday we made the run from Bear, Delaware to the Philadelphia Marine Center in just under 7 hours. The journey wasn’t much to talk about, pretty boring if you ask me. I thought it would be similar to traveling the ICW with homes, businesses and communities along the waterfront, but it’s not. We did see remnants of two small towns, a couple of refineries, an old fort and what looked like a defunct factory, but that was it!!! Even the boat traffic was next to nil!!! Fortunately, we had the current with us most of the way and FOX news, on SIRIUS satellite radio, to make the time pass quickly.

All of that boredom changed, however, when we reached the outskirts of Philadelphia. Here, we found lots of ocean going ships that had either sailed up Delaware Bay or come up the Chesapeake to drop their cargos at Philly. It was difficult, sometimes, to detect their direction of travel or whether they were at anchor or just waiting their turn to pull into an offloading dock.

Then, as we pulled into sight of Camden, New Jersey, Gordon suddenly became excited. He began yelling at me to, “Look, Look,” and was pointing towards the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. As I looked in the direction he was pointing, I saw the outline of a big U.S. Navy battleship, which Gordon swore was the battleship New Jersey. The New Jersey had been in action off of the coast of South Vietnam when he was over there and had shelled, and silenced, the North Vietnamese guns that were attacking where Gordon was stationed. Sure enough, as we got closer, the name on the back of the battleship was the New Jersey. It was really quite an impressive sight.

From Camden, it was just a mile or two up the river to Philadelphia. We had made reservations at the Philadelphia Marine Center the night before and in no time were at the mouth of their marina. After pulling in the marina, we got tied securely just before the rain started. And fortunately, the rain was also kind enough to wait until after Schooner’s walk. She was most appreciative!!

At the Philadelphia Marine Center, we just happen to be right beside the Ben Franklin Bridge. Cars and the trains travel across the Delaware River to Camden, New Jersey on this enormous bridge. The one thing we found right away is there is not much green space here!! Thank goodness Schooner isn’t picky about where she does her business!! And the TRAINS…the first night, I heard the trains all night long, but I guess I am getting use to them now and only hear them occasionally. Other than that, it’s a pretty cool spot and we are pretty much within walking distance of most of the Historic sights.

We called Harry, (native Philadelphian) and were given some information on places to see and places to eat, so we are ready for the morning. Now all we need is some Internet service!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The First Day of Fall

It’s Sunday morning, the first day of Fall and it’s absolutely beautiful outdoors. The sky is clear, it’s 76°-F and the breeze is blowing about three miles per hour, so it feels more like a fine Spring day than the first day of Fall. We were up at 6:30 AM and, after taking Schooner for her morning constitutional, began preparing the boat to leave Baltimore at 8:00. Due to the calmness of the water and the great conditions, we were able to cast off about ten minutes early. We negotiated the many docks at the marina (it has 255 boat slips) and in no time at all, were on the Patapsco River, heading for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

As a general rule of thumb, Gordon and I try to never travel on a Sunday. The reason for this is, there are usually a high number of people zooming about in boats of all shapes and sizes and the water is really congested. To make matters worse, most of the weekend boaters haven’t a clue when it comes to boater safety, COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea), US Coast Guard Navigation Rules or plain old common courtesy. The net result is, the water becomes like a huge game of chicken with multiple players. Add a bit of alcohol and you wonder why there aren’t more collisions at sea. That being said, today was no exception to that rule.

Since this might be the last great weekend to go boating on the upper Chesapeake, the water was full of go-fast boats, big cruisers, small runabouts and sailboats trying to move under wind power alone (remember, the wind is only 3 mph.) To compound the congestion on the waterway, about every 45 minutes or so, an ocean going freighter (500 plus feet in length) or tug with a barge(s) in tow would pass by heading south. Many of the Sunday boating crowd paid them no heed and expected these big guys to move out of their way (bad idea.) Despite all of this drama, we were able to avoid any mishaps and make our way safely up the Chesapeake to the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal.

The C&D, originally dug in 1829, connects upper Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. It’s 14 miles long, 450' wide, 45' deep and connects Philadelphia, PA with the Chesapeake Bay and all of its adjacent cities. We had timed today’s passage, so that the current was with us going into the canal and we’d reach the mid point of the canal right at slack tide. At this point is a marina called Summit Point Marina and it was here that we’d made a reservation for the night.

Upon our arrival, we took on fuel and moved into our slip for the night. It’s quiet here, calm, sheltered and the boat hardly moves in its slip. Tonight we’ll both get a good night’s sleep and head on to Philadelphia in the morning.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Last Day of Summer

It’s hard to believe it’s almost Fall already!! This week, hear in Baltimore, has been great; a little cool in the early morning and night, but otherwise quite warm. We really did enjoy visiting this town and plan to return, you can tell by the length of our stay; it was to be only 2 nights!!!

Baltimore, from our experience, is one of the friendliest towns we have ever visited. The people here are so nice, one would think Baltimore was located in the Deep South. Wherever we went, if someone on the sidewalk saw us looking at a map, they’d stop and ask if we needed help finding something. More often than not, a local resident would save the day and save us lots of time and many steps. It was through the help of locals that we found Chiapparrelli’s Restaurant, Shuckers Bar (with its free buffet on Friday night) and the historic Lexington Market, just to name a few.

We toured many of the local attractions during our stay here. Almost four hours was devoted to the Baltimore Aquarium alone. Divided into four sections, the aquarium features a live dolphin show, a tropical rainforest exhibit, an Australian exhibit and aviary and the main saltwater aquarium; each of these in it’s own four story building. We also visited the World Trade Center (28 stories tall), the Maritime Museum, the Museum of Industry and Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Oriels baseball team (my favorite!!!) There is so much to see in Baltimore that in our four days here just wasn’t enough. Gordon and I can hardly wait to come back and spend a week or two here.

I thought it would be best if I did a slide show of our adventure, that way, you can enjoy the many photos of what we saw in Baltimore.

I wish we could share the food we had, too!! The only complaint my legs have is the amount of walking we did…even Schooner was worn out from all of it…LOL! It was by choice to walk, however, even though there was a water taxi available. I would say we averaged 5 miles a day back and forth into the inner harbor. I know we wore friends Catherine and Garry out on Friday when we walked to Camden Yards and the Oriel Field, but it was such a great day to take in all the sights and “taverns.” It was nice of them to show us about Baltimore and catch up with them on their travels. Thanks again Guys!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Maryland Update

I forgot to tell you about our visit to the Navel Academy yesterday. We walked over to the gate and showed them our ID’s and then proceeded to the visitor’s center. We made a pass through the gift shop and looked over the displays inside before walking the grounds. What an awesome place to see. It takes a lot of dedication to go to school here!! It’s 4 years of boot camp along with college courses and every one participates in a sport!! Maybe that’s why we don’t see Navy in the BCS!! I just wanted you to know that I have the greatest respect for all of our service men and women, but especially any who attend an Academy.

We are now in Baltimore, Md. This is the farthest north we have ventured on the boat and when we left Annapolis this morning I was wondering if we were making the right choice. We woke up to 56° temperatures!! More than a 15° drop from the day before. It did start to warm slowly, but only reached a high of 77° at 3:00pm when we arrived here. It didn’t take us too long to make our way to the water taxi and find Little Italy! A really nice lady who saw we were lost, directed us to an “off the beaten path” Italian restaurant. (Chiapparrelli’s) It was fabulous!! Now 4 hours later, I’m still tasting garlic!! We took the water taxi the long way home and the city was beautiful at sunset. After a long day the bed looks good too, plus I’m excited to see more tomorrow!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend in Annapolis

Hanna? Hanna? Who/what the heck is Hanna? We thought she had left us, but alas, that sneaky storm affected the weather in Yorktown for way more than the storm’s one-day transit across our location. A cold front, which was held off by the tropical storm, merged with the rainstorms on Hanna’s southern side and proceeded to blow strong winds and drop mass amounts of rain on us for the next five days. Finally, we had a half day window on Friday, the 12th, and we took it.

It was rough for the first three or four hours, but we finally made it north of the convection area. The seas calmed, the swells smoothed out and the currents and wind worked in our favor. We were finally able to settle into a groove where we were making a steady 6.5 to 7 knots and running on both sails and engine. From that point on, it was a matter of keeping alert as we negotiated the twenty-hour run to Annapolis, MD.

We arrived in Annapolis at 5:30am, Saturday morning, and promptly dropped anchor off of the U.S. Naval Academy and went to bed as the sun started to rise. Gordon had spent most of the night avoiding freighters, barges and tankers while listening to FOX NEWS on the Sirius radio. I stayed with him until midnight and then went below to watch the FOX NEWS and WEATHER CHANNEL live feeds on Hurricane Ike. I did check on him every hour, as it was impossible to sleep. I was totally entranced at seeing the devastation happening in Texas. It brought back memories of watching the Katrina feeds, until our power went out on us and didn’t come back for 2 days. I pray all comes out well for the Texans and that people learn to leave when they are told to evacuate, ERIKA!! By the way, the trip here was fairly smooth and uneventful…that’s the third trip across the Chesapeake to be smooth!!!

After 4-5 hours of sleep and Schooner with her legs crossed, we were able to move to the Annapolis Yacht Basin and hard ground. Schooner was very appreciative! We walked all about town, with the first stop being the Pusser’s Landing, the factory rum store and grill. Saturday was quite warm, almost a record (91°), and we were still pretty tired and so, after finding a place to eat, we were back on board and fast asleep!!

Sunday started with Gordon’s (and Bob Evans) sausage gravy and biscuits. Not quite as good as the restaurants, but a close second!!! We did a couple of small projects, those lasting less that 2 hours apiece, and then spent some more time walking about town. Again, it was really hot and crowded with people and I think every midshipman at the Academy was on liberty. It’s pretty cool seeing all those people in uniform.

I was disappointed with being in Annapolis this weekend, though, as there were no soccer games scheduled at the Academy and the football game was away. We had to go back to the boat to watch soccer (MLS) on TV.

The Marina had cleared out by 2:00pm, as it was mostly weekend cruisers in for the weekend. Also, the wind was picking up and blew fairly strong most of the evening and was making the wind generator roar by the next morning. The last remnants of Ike are coming through today and tomorrow, but the temperature is to drop and become more normal!! (Highs in the 70’s)

We plan to move on in the morning, Tuesday, the 16th. Baltimore is the next stop, 28 nautical miles away. We plan to take in the aquarium, Camden Yards, and FOOD!!! Anyway, look for more on Baltimore in the next blog.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Sunday, September 7th, we awoke to an unbelievably beautiful day. The air was clear, crisp and smelled wonderful, the rain having washed away all of the dust and smells. There was little to no humidity, it was 80 degrees and not a hint of a cloud in the sky. Combine all of this with a mild breeze and you have a truly perfect day.

Late last night, we had made arrangements with Dan and Debbie, from the Hunter 46 “About Time” to meet for breakfast. We were to meet at the River’s Inn, here at the marina, at 9:00 am, but upon arriving, we discovered that the restaurant didn’t open until 11:00 am. So, not to be set back by this development, we all got in Dan’s car and went across the river to the Yorktown Hotel and had a really great breakfast there. Blueberry pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and gigantic omelets saved the day and more than filled us all up.

Following a long, relaxed meal and good conversation, we returned to the Yacht Haven around noon. Dan and Debbie and Gordon and I said our goodbyes and arranged to meet later for cocktail hour on About Time. Then, Gordon and I walked Schooner for a bit, got in our car and headed for Colonial Williamsburg to play “tourista.”

We had a pleasant drive up the western shore of the York River, on the Colonial Parkway. This scenic stretch of federal highway is part of the National Park Service's Colonial National Historical Park. With portions built between 1930 and 1957, the Colonial Parkway joins the three communities with a scenic, tranquil roadway, carefully shielded from views of commercial development. A major effort has also been made to keep traffic signs and other modern roadside items to a minimum, and make them unobtrusive where unavoidable.
This helps visitors mentally return to the past, and there are often views of wildlife and waterfowl in addition to the river panoramas near each end.

Arriving in Williamsburg around 1:00 pm, Gordon and I parked the car in one of the many convenient (and free) public parking lots and took to the sidewalks. The streets of Williamsburg are lined with hundreds of upscale stores, boutiques and eateries. If you can think of it, you can be certain you’ll find it in Williamsburg. And, if you visit every shop in town, I can guaranty you you’ll find lots of neat stuff that you never thought of.

Williamsburg is also home to William and Mary University, the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the original eight institutions known as Public Ivies. William & Mary was founded in 1693 by a Royal Charter issued by King William III and Queen Mary II, joint sovereigns of England, Scotland and Ireland. The school hosted the seat of government of the Colony of Virginia beginning in 1698, as a new capitol building was constructed nearby. In modern times, the College's landmark Wren Building stands at the western head of Duke of Gloucester Street, while the reconstructed Capitol of Colonial Williamsburg stands at the eastern end of the street.

Having gotten our “shopping fix,” Gordon and I took the car and moved to the Colonial Village of Williamsburg, which is the historic district of the city. It consists of many of the actual buildings that, from 1699 to 1780, formed colonial Virginia's capital. The 301 acre Historic Area is meant to be an interpretation of a Colonial American city, with exhibits that include dozens of authentic or accurately-recreated colonial houses and staged events relating to American Revolutionary War history. In this environment, Colonial Williamsburg strives to tell the story of how diverse peoples, having different and sometimes conflicting ambitions, evolved into a society that valued liberty and equality. (On a lighter note, Gordon and I figured out that, the fact that the historic area contains nine (9) reconstructed taverns, means our forefathers did a LOT of drinking!)

Having walked (and walked and walked and walked) the city, we decided to leave Williamsburg and head for home around 4:30 pm. We made another scenic transit of the Colonial Parkway and finally returned to the marina around 5:00 pm. Then it was drinks (Bushwackers. Yum Yum!) and more good conversation until around 11 pm and back to the boat for a good night’s sleep.