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.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Mini Vacation with "Baby"

 Our RV trailer and truck have got a lot of use this summer and now in the fall.  Our fourth trip was down to the North Adams, Massachusetts area for 3 days in September. We stayed at the Mohawk Trail State Forest for 2 nights. That turned out to be a different experience than we expected. There was extensive road work going on right outside the park. One-way traffic on several sections caused long waits and the noisy machines were busy from 7:30 in the morning till late in the day. Otherwise, this is a remote park from anywhere. It took us 20 minutes to get to a spot where there was cell service and it was 30+ minutes to Adams or North Adams. 

This is site #1. We were uphill from the river and right on the park road. But it was fairly easy to back in - now, last year this would have scared us to death!

Our Senior Center has 2 E-bikes for free for up to 3 days. We made reservations well in advance and spent two hours enjoying the Rail to Trail bikeway south from Adams. Scott's cousin Lisa drove from Amherst to join us with her normal bike. As the trail was mostly flat, we didn't need much assistance from our E-bikes but on the uphill sections, it was great! They are very heavy though so it was a job for Scott to get them into the back of our truck when he picked them up. After our bike trip, we enjoyed a nice lunch outside overlooking the path in Adams. 

Scott and I and our E-bikes ready to roll. I'm sorry that the selfie we thought we'd taken with Lisa has been lost somewhere. 

We had hoped to go into North Adams for dinner that night but a series of thunderstorms and torrential rains called a halt to that. The road was hard enough in good weather! So we snuggled into our trailer and enjoyed a good dinner and books. The next day we had reservations for Mass MoCA. This was our second time this year, but there is SO much to see and do there, that we had few repeats. We started with reserved tickets to the James Turrell exhibit "Into the Light" and got to go into both the light and dark "happenings".  It was a lovely morning, followed by lunch in their courtyard. We had to get back to Rutland by 4 PM to return the bikes but it was a great weather day and only a 2-hour drive. 

This is the largest watercolor in the world. Barbara Prey is the artist and it is 8 X 15 feet and SO beautiful. It took a year from start to finish and portrays Building 6's second floor before it was remodeled into the current art gallery. 

This traveling art class studio fascinated us and
I'm sorry we didn't have time to do some painting.

Inside is so cozy and many of the pieces people
have produced are displayed. 

Molly Wolf and Patrick Mascia with their new 
baby, Eleanor. We visited them at their home in 
Cambridge on September 21st. 
What a fabulous time we had at the Paramount 
Theater in Rutland seeing Straight No Chaser!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Summer Activities Round-up

Will, Sean, Heather, and Scott at Jacob's Pillow, MA in July.
PHOTOS below are so small. If you click on them they will enlarge.

This was a fabulous summer (compared to last year)! We attended tons of musical and art events: Opera, Dance, Symphony, Popular Music, Museums, and Chamber music. We saw the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, Mass MOCA, Opera North at Blow Me Down Farm (4 productions), the Saint Gaudens National Park, "The Iliad" and "Seussical" at Weston Playhouse, Marlboro Chamber Music Festival, the Yellow Barn, Village Harmony at Westminster, VT, Vermont Symphony at the Paramount Theater, ABBA Tribute at the meadow at the Vermont State Fair, JAG Burlesque at the theater on the Hill (at King Arthur Flour), and Tosca at Barn Opera.  In addition, our town of Shrewsbury had weekly concerts up at our Town Hall all summer! Our RV "Baby" came in handy too with 4 three-day mini holidays down in Pittsfield, Mass., Amherst, Mass., Cornish, NH, and North Adams, Mass.  Almost all of these were outdoors, and if not, they checked vaccination certificates and mandated masks. Now that is a summer to remember!

On our 3 day trip to Western Mass. we attended 2
concerts at Tanglewood, The first night a storm
came up during our picnic and we lucked out under
this canopy. 

Sean & Will are members so they scored these 
tickets inside the shed for both concerts.

The grounds of Tanglewood are so beautiful. We came here every summer with a number of families
when the kids were young for a week.

Looking down at the stage at Jacob's Pillow. We
sat in the front row. The photo on the right was
taken at Mass MOCA where we spent our last day.

And of course, we had lots of friends and family visit. In May we had a lovely dinner with Gail and Colin in Middlebury. In June Scott's cousin, Lisa had us down for her youngest son's Graduation Party and then came up for a stay here later in August. Brent & Wilma joined us in a rental RV for that party and then came up to Vermont for a visit. The Fourth of July was amazing this year with almost everyone there over 5 days of fun and food (separate blog post).  Sean, Will, and Gary (Will's Dad) came for a separate visit just after that. We had a great time with Suzanne Falter, who came from Oakland, CA. Our daughter Zoe, grandsons Nick, and Tommy stayed for a week in August. Jenny & Russ Wolf made it up in August too. Coming soon, Barbara Craig will be arriving from Bonita Springs, FL on her yearly visit north. 

Colin and I at the Smiths in Middlebury

Heather with Brent and Wilma in June

My women's book club meeting in July at 
Connie's house in Shrewsbury. Two photos taken
in opposite directions,

Next week we go down to North Adams for two nights and then the following week, Heather will drive down to see her sister Paula in Maryland and then on to Washington DC for a visit with James, Morgen, and Kolya. Scott is taking the train down during the week to join us. 

We spent two nights at an RV park near the Opera
North's Blow Me Down Farm and one day visited
the Saint Gaudens National Park location nearby.

One of Saint Gaudens most famous sculptures, the
original is in the Boston Gardens.

We walked around the extensive grounds and
 enjoyed a picnic there.

This is the main house where he and his family
lived. It's now a museum as is the whole property.
His wife gave it to the National Parks service.

The gardens were spectacular. There was a resident
Sculptor, and we could tour the studios. His pieces
were so big that he had many assistants, sculptors
in their own right. 

Our grandson Tommy and Nick helped pile up our
wood for the winter during their visit.

We attended an ABBA tribute concert that really
rocked with them and our daughter Zoe. But their
favorite event was touring the Star Trek Original
Set in Ticonderoga, which Scott and I had done
earlier this summer (see the blog post).

My book club met in August at my home. My book
choice was "An Embarrassment of Mangos" which
contains many recipes. Each person chose one and
we had a fabulous dinner together. 

A small group of the many dishes at our dinner..
The photo opposite is of a Village Harmony

Our plans now (subject to change) are to fly down to Guatemala at the beginning of November for one month and get Scott Free ready to sail. She needs a haul and a survey for insurance purposes and that will lead to a list of repairs of that we're sure. Then back to Vermont for December and Christmas with our family. At the end of the month, we'll return to Guatemala and hopefully, leave for good mid-January. We plan to spend a few months in Belize and then begin the long trip back up to the Chesapeake where we will put Scott Free up for sale. Sean & Will hopefully will be joining us for some of that trip, along with several couples from Shrewsbury. 

Nick & Tommy check out the shuttlecraft

And beam up!