Monday, October 1, 2018

Home Leave to the East Coast

Traveling to the east coast in July and returning to California in early September was reminiscent of home leaves from Switzerland to the USA. This year it was going "home" or east from California. 

Lynn, Ellen, Pam with hearts provided by Pam
When I travel east, I fly to Boston and head directly to the cottage in Westport Point. I use my "peaceful oasis" as my east coast home base. The cottage is fully furnished including some second-string clothes. The car that lives there helps me get around. I've hosted lifelong friends, Pam and Lynn, in Westport several times. We couldn't find a time when we could overlap much in 2018, but we took advantage of the 30 minutes available the day after my arrival! Pam and Lynn were both in New England for other events and stopped by. 

After a short period of acclimating to the east coast, I headed to Lititz, PA for the first of two visits to my parents. Conveniently, they scheduled a picnic lunch while I was there. It was definitely a nice change of scenery for everyone. 

A few weeks later, I visited again and this time my sister and niece stopped by.


Mom enjoying sitting outside in the gazebo
We made arrangements to have a video chat with Sarah - the next best thing to being there. 

Jane and Phil, former music minister in Westfield, NJ
Since we rebuilt the cottage, Tom hasn't spent more than two weeks there at once, or in nearly the whole year! 2018 is not different, but we did get to spend two weeks together where we enjoyed beautiful weather (not nearly as hot as SoCal) and lots of fresh seafood.  Of course, we had to take care of some chores as homeowners must. We also had time for some kayaking on the Westport River, tennis and a day trip out to Martha's Vineyard to visit Jane and Phil Dietterich. 


there is never a shortage of chatter when we're together!
We hosted our Swiss friends, Petra, Laura and Luca Hunold, in Westport for a few days. They'd been traveling in eastern Canada before coming to us. (Erich had to return to Switzerland to resume working.) We showed them around the local area and also took day trips to New Bedford, MA and Newport, RI. I wondered how it would be since we'd never traveled with them or spent consecutive days together. Not to worry. It was so much fun to be together and they were great guests. 

being silly!

We played cards in the evenings and taught them a game our family has always enjoyed, Five Crowns.   


Gooseberry Point is always a favorite spot of mine. It's so peaceful even with the noise of the waves.
most visitors enjoy skimming rocks at Gooseberry - Luca was no different!

taking the kayaks to the river

It was a first experience with crabbing for all of them and they caught close to 50 crabs! Laura particularly loved crabbing.  

The whaling industry played a large role in the history of Martha's Vineyard and the rest of Massachusetts. 

outside the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA

A highlight for all guests is the nearly daily visit to Handy Hill Creamery for one of their many flavors of ice cream. Yum!

Before heading to Newport, we had a pancake breakfast at the cottage. Thanks for cooking, Tom! We had candles in the pancakes to celebrate Petra's birthday. 


We toured the largest of the Newport Mansions, The Breakers.


Petra, Ellen and Tom outside The Breakers

Luca's selfie with unknown people bombing the photo!
On our last night together, we took in the sunset at Gooseberry Point. Another highlight for me. 

It will probably be a long while before we see each other again, but I look forward to it anyway. Maybe summer 2019 in Zurich?

Once the Hunolds left and Tom returned to CA, I also left MA. I headed down to NJ where I spent several days taking care of the Westfield house and visiting friends.

dinner with friends in NJ

It's always great to see a lot of folks at once. It's not easy to get to talk with everyone, but it's better than nothing. 

I also went into NYC twice to celebrate Sarah's big (30!) birthday with her. I met her at the Hard Rock Cafe on Times Square where she works as a bartender and server. She gave me a tour and introduced me to a lot of her "peeps."


Sarah is waiting for me, but doesn't see me arrive - it's a busy place! 

touring HRC

posing with Michael Jackson
Sarah and I saw two musicals together. The first was Waitress which seemed appropriate for her. 

setting is a pie shop/restaurant

I felt compelled to buy some individual pies from the "waitress" coming around in the audience. It was a fun show. 
Sarah has been a fan of penguins for a long time. I was able to find some to bring for her birthday.

 Sarah's first choice of show was Chicago - we went to see that on her actual birthday.

The musicians for both shows were on stage and visible to the audience. This is the entire set for Chicago. It's a dark, but very funny show with great music. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

disappointing that they're all men

I eventually made my way back to MA and Lynn came back up with me. Together we visited another friend, Sherilyn, and spent the day sightseeing in her area. 

We walked around Walden Pond (it's quite small, but a pretty spot). 

Sherilyn, Lynn, me

me and Thoreau

with a Minute Man

Since we were in the Concord area, we explored the various highlights of Minute Man National Park. 

doesn't look much like a battlefield now

We're on the restored North Bridge, site of “the shot heard ‘round the world.”

I headed back to Newport with Lynn - this time for a food tour. I've been on food tours in lots of other places and find them very enjoyable (and filling). The guide tells you some about the location as well as the local food or restaurants. 

I'm not a fan of hot dogs - starting with that wasn't the best for me.

The bakery offering was Irish soda breead. What made it more special was being able to spread it with cinnamon butter.

Until this tour, I would have been indifferent towards calamari. In my experience, it's usually been rubbery and chewy. This was surprisingly tender and tasty. A very nice change. 
inside the Grace Vanderbilt Hotel
berry and peach sorbet

At the hotel bar, we were served sorbet and some had champagne as well. It was too early for me to participate in the alcohol tastings along the way. I needed to stay awake to drive home at the end of the day.
view of Newport Harbor from Hotel

extremely tender ribs - meat fell off the bone

Brasserie offered us many tastes - I took one of each!

There were a few stops that were on other tours, but not ours. We decided that as long as we were in Newport, we should go check them out. Our tour guide's favorite is seafood salsa. Intriguing. Since we'd already eaten so much, we just ordered one to share. Luckily, it was small.

The last stop was the Lobster Shack for some bisque we took home and ate the next day.

We always try to allow one day for hanging out at the beach and this year the weather cooperated. Conveniently, we happened to arrive when a kind resident of Westport Point had put together quite a display of kites and wind socks. 


We spoke to him and learned that he buys patterns, but sews all his creatures himself. He said it keeps him out of trouble on the cold winter nights!   The top one is a kite and several wind socks are attached to the line which is eventually anchored in the sand. I went to the beach a couple of times later by myself and each time his display was different.

taking down the display

did you know penguins can fly?


 I really enjoyed the colorful displays. I hope he does it again next summer.

books, castle and bookworm

Some people use sand as their creative medium. 

drippy castle

I even managed to take a selfie without capsizing!
Tom and I most often use our double kayak. When we went kayaking with our guests earlier, I took one of the singles because Petra had never kayaked before and was uncomfortable with paddling alone. I rediscovered how satisfying a solo paddle can be. After Tom had left, I went out again on my own. This was much more challenging because it meant there was no one around to hold the boat steady for me to get in or out. I managed to avoid falling into the river either time and had a nice trip up the river. Now that I know I can do it, I'm sure I'll do it again! 

Before returning to CA, I had one last visit: Tom and I met in Fort Myers to visit his parents. 

Since they have a golf cart and a scooter, we decided it would be fun to have a race.

on your mark, get set, go!

I'll let you guess who won. 

It was a very busy trip, but I was glad to see so many people. Maybe I'll do it again next summer!