Monday, January 17, 2022

Love In Vermont - Will & Sean's Wedding Part II

Well the rain came - and we all more than survived
After the beautiful sunny day that lasted through the wedding
ceremony came the thunder storm. But there were shelters in
the storm and we all happily sought them.
Well why you may ask is this blog entry appearing today as it's about Sean & Will's wedding so many years ago - but somehow it didn't get published back then! I just found it! There were two other entries at the time and somehow this didn't get published. So here it is now.
Just a few shots from the coming thunder storm first. But lets return to the ceremony. The rings were sent out on a trip around the guests to be warmed with their love, shepherded by Sean's nephew Daniel. We had a wonderful rendition of "How Deep is Your Love" from the Bee Gees by Derrick Smith. Heather read "Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare and Gary DeKrey, Will's father, gave the next reading, "The Seven Blessings".

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Back in Guatemala - yet again, but maybe the last time.

 It's a little bitter sweet on this trip as it could be the last time we fly to Guatemala. It's been 8 years now since we arrived in the Rio Dulce and we expect to be leaving this month for our trip home. People ask what are our feelings as we give up this life style that we have enjoyed so long. On our first blog 19 years ago we said that the saying goes that the best two days of your life are when you buy the boat and then when you sell it. That's true for us but only as it pertains to our boating life - there are more important events in our life than that - for example, our kids and grandchildren, and our marriage.

The view out our 8th story hotel window at dawn in Guatemala City

But the last two years have made this decision easier. Many of our cruising friends have already retired and sold their boats. Others will be doing it soon. COVID 19 has changed our comfort level in other countries and our age status has made it more difficult to maintain the boat. It will be a relief to reach the U.S. and more available assistance at sea and on the land. So we have no regrets. (Edith is singing that in my brain). 

Scott and I take a selfie on the plane to Guatemala

Amazingly enough after all the news about canceled flights, both of ours on American were on time. We landed around 9 PM Guatemalan time (10 PM our time) on New Year's Eve. We were in our hotel room at Las Americas at (their time) 10:30 PM. Scott feel asleep immediately but I couldn't. I watched from our 8 story hotel windows while the huge city celebrated. There were close to a hundred firework locations visable and thousands of fireworks. What an amazing sight. 

A huge Mall is only blocks away from our hotel. It had just opened so we had the restaurant to ourselves for lunch. 

The next morning we enjoyed the breakfast buffet. Our 5 star hotel costs $50 a night with breakfast (a discount booking with our Marina, but still, all hotels here are very cheap by U.S. standards. Good omelet station and fruits but cold pastries, no toast.  New Year's Day was "tranquillo". This is a big holiday here and very few people were out on the street and the traffic was the calmest we have ever seen!!! Later we had several walks in the pretty park areas and enjoyed a lunch out at the big Mall. Big family groups gathered for picnics under the trees. People are more COVID smart here than most of the U.S. They wear masks and there are temperature and hand sanitizer stations at most entrances. We wore restrictive surgical masks on the planes and when there were crowded situations, but switch to easier breathing masks when we can distance.

It was a beautiful day with a high of 79 degrees and a low of 59. A large park separates the two directions of the main avenue of Las Americas. Normally this street is REALLY busy and hard to cross but on New Year's Day, almost empty all morning. 

Our driver picked us up the next morning at 7 AM, after the breakfast buffet served at 6 AM here. The drive down to the Rio Dulce is usually around 6 - 7 hours, but can be much longer if there is an accident or other traffic problems. The record for one of our friends was 11 hours. But we had a record 4.5 hour easy trip as it was a Sunday and as our driver said; "Everyone is asleep!"  We were welcomed at our Marina by a number of our cruiser friends and enjoyed a fun evening with everyone. Because of our recent travels, we sat "downwind" at the long table. 

Many families were enjoying the beautiful day at
the park. One section is a small amusement park
with pay and free rides and structures. 

That's our hotel on the left, Las Americas.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and had it to
ourselves. We eat very early by Guatemalan standards. Scott had a wonderful Mexican chicken soup and Caesar salad and I had fish with capers and lime. Excellent.

Our welcoming group at Tortugal from left to right: Ellen & Dave, Scott, Alan, Tamara, Shelly, Kent, Marsha and Rick. That's our book swap shelves in the background. Every Marina and most bars, restaurants in the Caribbean have one. Now we have them all over the U.S. Little libraries on the street in cities or in our case in Shrewsbury in front of our library or at Pierce's Store. This is the back section of the restaurant which we've been using as there are a lot of guests at the moment. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Christmas Holidays 2021

 Sadly at the last minute our son James had to cancel his trip up to us with Morgen and Kolya (our youngest grandson 4 years old). All of them were sick with a cold all week (they did test negative awhile ago but couldn't find a new test available). Washington DC has had a really bad outbreak of the new COVID virus. Regretfully we all decided it they shouldn't make the long drive north. We did see them every day on Zoom and were able to watch Kolya open his presents. Kudos to the Post Office as the huge package we mailed on Thursday arrived on Monday!

Our youngest son Sean and our son-in-law Will cuddle up on the couch. It's snowing outside and you can see our tree over on the left.

But happily Sean and Will came up for a week so we had a Merry Christmas with them. All four of us tested negative before their arrival and we are being tested again before our flights later this week. Sean and Will are flying to the British Virgin Islands on Thursday for a week bare boat chartering with friends. Scott and I fly to Guatemala on Friday. We're keeping our fingers crossed that our flights aren't canceled! Thousands have been over the past week. Next post hopefully will be on our boat in Tortugal Marina, on the Rio Dulce!

We had a roaring fire in the fireplace often and all day on Christmas. We've had snow cover for over a week now with flurries now and then. 

Scott gave me the aqua down vest and I gave him
the navy fleece jacket.

Sean clowning around in his new sweater and
sneakers from Will and the traditional flannel
pants we give all our kids.

Of course we had great meals every 
night. We all love to cook and eat.
here's one of my pies, apple!

A selfie of all four of us.

Scott enjoys one of the many cocktails our 
barrister son makes.

And so do Will and Sean. That's Will's sweater
from Sean and his flannel pants.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Guatemala to California and Back


Scott, Heather, Roy, Dale, Debbie, Jeff, Debarah, Jerry and Ellen (and Garcia bottom center) enjoy our nightly get together for drinks. 

The moon rise over the Rio Dulce from the restaurant.
We got a lot done during our month in Guatemala. Well, mostly Scott got it done and I kept track of the "to do" list. I shop, cook, clean and cheer him on, but the hard labor falls to him. We scheduled the insurance survey a week after we arrived with Captain John. The first part was in the water and then we had her hauled up at RAM boatyard for the second part and some much needed work. The two biggest jobs were replacing the hose and cleaning up the prop that goes between the engine and the propeller. The second was cleaning the fuel tanks. Captain John discovered the first one and we the second when our engine quit a few minutes after we left the dock! Water got into the tanks over the year and a half and grew some nasty organisms. It took two workers two days to polish the fuel and clean the tanks. In order to access those tanks we had to empty all the lockers in the main salon - what a mess. And then Scott had to clean all the fuel hoses and filters. Even then we still had trouble turning on the engine. Happily, Jim came over and they found a loose wire to the ignition - what a satisfying sound that engine makes!  Jim and Renate, our cruising buddies on Emerald Seas, arrived a week before we left. They have decided to sell their boat and only stayed a few weeks to get it ready. We are really going to miss them!!!

Dale, Roy, Debarah, Dave, Tamara, Scott (from Kookie Dance), Alan, Heather & Jerry. This was just one of the several tables for Thanksgiving. There were 29 of us in all. 

The owner of Tortugal , Daphne, brought back a 20 lb turkey and a big ham for our Thanksgiving (and another pair for the staff and hotel guests). Mary, the resident Chef, baked these for us and they were great. All the cruisers signed up for a appetizer, side dish or dessert. Of course we had mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce, but we also had stuffed christophenes (also know as chayote) with shrimp, gingered carrots, curried lentils, grilled eggplant etc. It was a feast for sure with lots of apple pies for dessert. One dish brought back a lot of memories for me. Daphne also made a lime jello salad with pineapple, walnuts and cottage cheese. That was a favorite of my mother's and she often made it for pot lucks. 

We were supposed to fly back to the U.S. on Tuesday 11/30 and had reservations at the Barcelo Hotel in Guatemala City for two nights before the trip to be sure and get our COVID test results. A negative test is necessary to reenter the U.S. But I came down with Montezuma's Revenge on Saturday and had to cancel our driver on Sunday morning. Unfortunately the problem continued and we had to cancel again on Monday and reschedule our flights for Friday December 3rd. Our driver took us up to the city on Thursday early and we were able to get our test and results that afternoon. Our flights all went very well and we were back in Boston with Sean & Will that night and drove home on Saturday. 

But not for long. Scott's ex-wife Nancy, the mother of our daughter Zoë, passed away in November and we flew out for her Memorial Service on 12/9 and a visit with Zoë, our son-in-law George and two grandsons Nick and Tommy. The service was really beautiful and we enjoyed a family dinner afterwards at Zoë's sister Kyrie's home. She rented heaters so that we could eat outside! It was pretty cool in Palo Alto - mid 50's. On Sunday we drove to U.C. Merced to visit Nick, who is a Freshman there. Then back to Boston again on the 14th and home here in Vermont the next day. And here we'll stay for a whole 2 weeks! James, Morgen, Kolya, Sean & Will all arrive next week and spend Christmas with us. We're getting COVID PCR tests on Saturday so we can celebrate safely. We already did the Rapid home tests on Wednesday morning. 

Then on 12/30 if the stars align we'll have dinner at Marty & Russ Wolfs house in Concord, MA with the Silversteins and Bond-D'Arpas, followed by flights to Guatemala City on the 31st, and the long drive down to the Rio Dulce and Scott Free on the 1st. of January. Whew! But right now our best wishes go out to each and every one of you for the merriest but safest Holiday Season and lets hope, a better 2022. 

Daphne, the owner of Tortugal and 
a good friend.

Some of the buffet offerings

An appetizer tray

Scott from Kookie Dance carved the

Diane and Heather. We all tried to dress up a 

The next day at Sun Dog Restaurant with our 
friend Rudy, who formerly worked at Tortugal.

Rainbows are frequent on the river. Here's one
that ends at Scott Free!

We had to haul Scott Free for work at the RAM
boatyard. Here she is on the sling.

Scott and I tried to walk everyday on the lovely
roads that lead from the Marina towards 
town. They go through a teak and chocolate
tree farm. 
Tommy, George and our daughter
Zoë in front of their Christmas tree
in Palo Alto, CA
The view from our window at the Las Americas
Hotel in Guatemala City. We're looking over the
airport at several of the volcanos that surround
the city. 
Our grandson Nick with ourselves
at U.C. Merced where he is a 
Freshman this year. 

The chocolate pods were at various stages of
ripeness but these were the only ones we saw
that were two toned!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Back on the Rio After All This Time

Scott finishes up our lunch on the porch of Tortugal Marina

In many ways, it feels like I've never been away. Scott and I are sitting at a table on the deck of the Tortugal Marina having our morning coffee and checking our emails. The sun is coming up over the river through hazy clouds and it's about 70 degrees. We stayed last night at one of the lovely rooms here, a treat we allow ourselves the first night we arrive. Today we'll move into the boat.

Scott Free looking well-taken care of at her berth at Tortugal.

But let's back up a bit and cover our happily generally uneventful trip from Vermont to here. On Wednesday we drove down to Boston, did a few errands, and stayed with our son Sean and his husband Will. Our first flight was at 6 AM so we were up at 3:30 and off to the airport before 4 AM. We flew American and were pleased by the well-organized departure procedures (compared to Spirit!). The flight was on time and totally full. Our days of the cheapest fare are ended: we paid for better seats on every segment. There was just enough time to get to our next flight to Guatemala and again, it was totally full. But we departed just one-half hour late!   It is always stressful waiting for our luggage as there wasn't a lot of time between flights, but our 2 huge checked bags finally arrived. Our baggage this trip consisted of these two, two carry-ons, and 2 personal items. In the past, we often brought 4 huge checked bags and used duffle bags (all at the maximum weight allowed) - no more, Scott can't haul those around anymore. Now, despite there taking up more room onboard, our bags have wheels. 

Jerry and Debarah ahead of us on the launcha as we head to Tortugal from the town of Fronteras on the Rio Dulce.

We landed in Guatemala City at 12 Noon, their time. This is two hours earlier than EST and it's going to take us days to reorient - definitely harder as we've gotten older. We stayed our one night at a new hotel, the Suites Terraza Imperial, at the suggestion of our friend Daphne. If you were staying for many days this would be perfect as it had a well-equipped kitchen but for one night, not necessary. Next time we'll go back to one of our favorites, Las Americanas or La Immaculada. Our cruiser friends from Oklahoma were there already as they had dentist appointments. Many cruisers get their dental and medical work done here. We visited with them briefly before having a very early dinner at 4:30 their time (still felt like 6:30 to us) and collapsing in bed even earlier.

The Tortugal Marina spreads out ahead of us on the river.

Our prearranged driver Otilio came at 6:45 AM to pick all four of us up for the trip to the Rio in a mini-bus. We all wore masks, removing them only briefly to eat or drink. Our driver had his window open and later we cracked ours open as well. We were very impressed with the precautions in Guatemala City for COVID. Almost everyone we saw wore masks, and temperatures were taken of the employees as they arrived at the hotels as well as of customers entering the large stores or malls. We sat in the middle row with Jerry & Debarah (that's the way she spells it) behind us. I'm going into all this because when we arrived at Tortugal our friends learned that their son, who they had been with before coming, had just tested positive for COVID. Of course, they were very worried. They, like ourselves, have had their booster shots, as had their son. After consulting with several people they are getting tested on Sunday and are keeping distant from everyone. We really are not too worried for ourselves as our precautions seemed to highly reduce the chance of being exposed, even if they do test positive. But these are the realities of our life now!

Looking down the dock towards Scott Free - as you can see, a beautiful day!

The trip down took 6 and one-half hours, a little over average time. Happily, the predicted rain never happened and we've enjoyed the sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Now it's all about getting the boat ready for the survey next week, followed by hauling at RAM. This month we want to know what needs to be done, and either fix it or arrange for the repairs. Then we fly home on November 30th for a month with our family celebrating the holidays. When we return the first of January, we'll have two weeks to finish up the work. We need to exit Guatemala oo the high tides mid-month or risk hefty fees. We're not sure whether we'll head to the Bay Islands of Honduras or Belize at that point. We'll decide in January when we know the current situation in both countries. 

All for now...

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

E-Bike Excursion to Burlington, VT

Here's a view looking off the Causeway across Lake Champlain. That's New York in the distance. It was completed in 1899 of riprapped marble after one year of construction and continued train service on from Burlington to Montreal, CA. 

 At the height of the fall foliage display, Scott and I reserved E-Bikes for another 3 day excursion with our RV "Baby" up to Burlington, VT.  As before the rentals were free from our local Senior Center. The Island Line Rail Trail and Colchester Causeway extend from South Burlington up to South Hero Island on Lake Champlain. It's 13.5 miles long one way but we had to stop a little early because the bike ferry that transports bikes during the warmer months was closed. This section of the trail crosses the lake on a causeway 3.5 miles long with a break that allows boat traffic to pass through to a large bay in the lake.  The trip took us about 3 hours and was spectacular as you can see from the photos.

We were the only folks brave enough
to sit outside. It was pretty cold.

Sunset over the vineyard while we sipped our wine.

All the State Parks in Vermont were closed for the season and most of the RV parks, but we got reservations at the Shelburne Camping Area, only about 4 miles south of Burlington. Our site was easy to access and Shelburne is a lovely town with some great shops and restaurants. Our first night we had a wine tasting at the Shelburne Winery. We had hoped to stay there as it's a Harvest Host location, but they were not taking reservations and in fact, have left the program. The wines were excellent and we enjoyed them overlooking the vineyard. 

After biking and a good lunch at the Skinny Pancake (sitting outside), we went shopping on the pedestrian street in the center of Burlington.

On our last day, it poured but at that point, it didn't matter. We were very lucky to have two lovely days at this time of year. That was a week ago and now we are doing our last preparations for our first trip down to Guatemala. We fly on 10/28 and return on 11/30. We have a survey scheduled for early next week. As part of that, we'll get hauled out at RAM. That will result in a list of work that needs to be done before we leave Guatemala mid January and head north to the U.S. This is the first time I'm not looking forward to our return. Concerns about COVID and worry about what we'll find in the survey have dampened any enthusiasm! Wish us luck.

Heather on her rented E-Bike

Scott takes a break on the Causeway

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Fall Visits

 Heather drove down to Maryland for a visit with her sister Paula on September 23rd and Scott followed on AmTRAK on the 28th. From there we went on to our son James' in Washington DC for 3 days, driving back from there on Monday, October 4th. Due to Heather's screw-up, our friend Barbara Craig had arrived at our home several days earlier but enjoyed some peace and quiet after a long trip up the East coast from Florida before we joined her.  She welcomed us home with a great dinner! A few days later we had dinner at her rental house on Lake Catherine with friends Melinda and Bob. 

Scott on one of the many hikes he took with Brent

Scott's brother Brent and sister-in-law Wilma

Then Scott's brother Brent and sister-in-law Wilma arrived for a visit from October 12th to the 16th. Their cousin Lisa drove up to spend the day with us on Wednesday. The weather was amazing all week - sunny and with a high of 71 every day. Perfect fall weather with the gorgeous foliage at a peak. 

Heather's sister Paula and Scott at her home in 
Belcamp, MD

We visited the Zoo in Washington DC and as you
can see wore masks, including Kolya

And even the statues were cautious

Morgen, James, and Kolya as we head home
after a long day at the Zoo

Kolya loves the water and this huge pool down by
the River in Washington is a favorite location. 
Grammy rolled up her pants to join in. 

Getting his suit on 

And now let's get in!

Kolya enjoying fall decorations.

And a cuddle up at the end of the day with Dada

He loves pumpkins!

Scott's brother Brent and our sister-in-law Wilma came up after we returned for a visit. We drove
over to Killington by way of Farm & Wilderness, where they went to camp. Wilma took these
lovely photos of the fall colors.