27 June 2011

Westward HO!

We enjoyed nearly a month in New England, we did, we really did.  While the weather was not as warm as we would have liked Reagan and Addison, our granddaughters, made up for any other possible shortcomings of the weather!


Newport RI, of course dates from the earliest American history and we enjoyed visiting the area.  We were just there too early because it was too cold for our thin FL blood!  We arrived there shortly before Memorial Day and left the area about 3 weeks later and went to USAF FamCamp near Cape Cod in MA, but more about that later.

Rhode Island reminded me of my very early days in the USAF when I was stationed in Boston; narrow streets that twisted and turned thru town, few street signs, street names changed in the middle of the block, emergency snow routes, and proud historic reminders of our Country's earliest days.

Newport was one of the favorite places of the early American industrial families with big bucks to spend.  Mansions built in late 19th Century abound, many are now historic landmarks open to public tours on a regular basis or on special occasions.  Some are still owned by descendants of the original builder's families, but some are owned by historic preservation societies or other groups.  In FL these would be large County Courthouses or other public buildings in the time they were built.  The grounds around these estates easily exceed the size of football field and are frequently complex garden arrangements immaculately maintained!  BJ wanted to tour a few of them, but we ran out of time.  Along the front of some of these that face a bay is the Cliff Walk.  It is a National Historic Place and is open to the public.  This was originally a path used by the servants to get to and from the mansions unobtrusively and now offers a spectacular view of the sea below and the mansions above it.
Cliff Walk

Cliff Walk
I enjoyed a walk along the Cliff Walk and did some geocaching while doing it.

RI Mansion, now office for historical society

Ft Wetherill
Reagan loves to throw rocks in the water!
 Of course the best part of RI was time with Reagan and Addie.  They spent time with us at the RV and we also took them on trips and picnics to nearby places.   One day we went over to Ft Wetherill, on an island in the Narragansett  Bay at Newport.  Not much left of the fort but there are some beautiful views from the high ground and the girls enjoyed throwing rocks in the water from the little bit of beach there was.

The last week we headed up to a USAF Famcamp on Massachusetts Bay between Boston and Cape Cod.  The picture shows the peninsula with the FamCamp on the tip.  In the pic included we were just to the left of the center, at the base of the green mound (which was originally an ammo storage igloo when this was a coastal artillery installation in WW II).  We arrived there on Monday to cool and cloudy weather and Tuesday was a very stormy day.  We were parked side by side with Rob & Jenna and the girls and we were facing east about 70 ft above the beach so we had a neat view of the roiled ocean below.   With the two vehicle facing each other (we pulled in and they backed in) it made a nice community area between them for the girls to play and entertain us.  And, we had a beautiful view out our front window.

The day after arriving was Stormy Tuesday and Rob & Jenna took the Girls to the Boston Aquarium.  It was an all day adventure and it turned out to be a day many local schools used as a field trip day for end of the school year activities.  Plenty of kids at the aquarium, but trip was enjoyed by all.  BJ & I chose to stay and watch the storm tossed waves 70 ft below us!!  It was an awesome display of Mother Nature's, but not one we would have chosen to watch if given the choice.

4th Cliff playground
So the next day dawned warm(er) and sunny.  Now, that is a display by Mother Nature that I enjoy much more.  BJ and Jenna went on a short shopping expedition, I carved down to Hugarock and back on my Trikke and then in the afternoon Rob and I went on a short geocaching trip to nearby Marshfield.  The Girls enjoyed playing outside, including a trip to the nice playground at 4th Cliff.

Next AM Reagan and I walked down to the beach which was quite wide (and rocky) due to low tide.  She, as usual, threw a lot of rocks into the water, one of her favorite water related past times! 
Reagan on the beach with the rocks

RVs from the beach

The RV's were clearly in view above us at the top of the cliff.  Interestingly, while perusing Google maps I found 1st Cliff north of 4th Cliff across the inlet.  While BJ and I were out touring area we stopped at a fresh fish market south of 4th Cliff and it had an arrow pointing to 3rd Cliff!!   They apparently name their cliffs like they do their streets in MA - randomly and confusing!

Later that day Rob and I put the kayaks in on the backside of the peninsula where we thought it would be a little calmer.    Well the rollers were breaking between where we put in and the North River we were going to paddle up.  After a rough start in the surf we started across the inlet toward the mouth of the North River.  Rollers were coming in from the open ocean beyond the inlet and it was slack tide after high tide.  They were breaking just short of the channel we were in which made it rough for awhile.
Afloat right side up!
 But, we persevered and were soon in the river enjoying the paddle. 
North River anchorage
 As we progressed up the river the outgoing tide was beginning and gaining strength.  When we turned back, we were riding a good current out of the river.  It took us about half the time to get back and lots less paddling.

So at the end of the week, Rob & Jenna and the Girls head back to Newport for the weekend.  We are going to meet up with them on the road Monday and go to the Finger Lakes region in Western NY.  However, for the weekend we were going to meet Jim & Ann, old friends of ours from long ago.  Jim and I were 2/Lt together in Boston and he stayed there after doing his tour in the USAF as that was his hometown.  We next saw Jim & Ann in Germany in 1975 and have not seen them since but have stayed in touch from time to time!  We glad to see them when they showed up at 4th Cliff about noon Friday.  We had decided to move the RV to Wompawtuck State Park which was much closer to their condo in Hull.  So Jim and I took the RV and BJ and Ann took their car and we moved up to Wompawtuck, about 18 miles north of 4th Cliff in Hingham, MA.

More about that fabulous weekend with Jim and Ann in the next post!!

17 June 2011

A Day on the Water Ends on the Tow Truck

Well, last week on one of the few sunny days we have had BJ and I decided to put the kayaks in the water and take a short trip.  We were at Carr Point FamCamp for NS Newport and there was a boat launch less then a mile away.   We were on the shores of Narragansett Bay and there was a large island with some homes on it about a mile off shore.  Between that island and shore was a small uninhabited island (Dyer Island) that BJ thought was a bird sanctuary.

Dyer Island Beaches
We launched the kayaks and got underway.  Water was calm and pretty clear, vis was about 15 feet into the water.  As we approached Dyer Island we could see the sea birds congregating on the rocky beach, it was low tide so a lot of beach! 
We never did land on the island but did circumnavigate it.   There was an unoccupied boat anchored about 60 ft off the north end of the island and the boat had a dive flag up.  Finally saw the bubbles but diver never surfaced while we were in that area.  Would like to know what he was diving for!

New born birds
There were some new born birds on the beach also.  They still had the gray furry looking cover rather then the feathers they will develop.   We decided not to go on to the larger island, Prudence Island, and paddled south of Dyer for a ways before heading back to the boat launch.

(Note: Not long ago I was looking at another Blog and I noted the pics were sideways and thought it odd.  Now I am having the same problem!  I have rotated them and saved them, renamed them and saved them and they are always in the correct alignment until I import them here and they are sideways as you can see.  Sorry about that.  I think it has to do with the native format of the camera I used. Will work on fixing the problem but for now you will need to twist your neck some to see the pics!)

It had been a nice hour and a half on the water, our first in several weeks.  It remained calm and sunny the whole time. 

So, when I go to get the Jeep to load the kayaks back on, it drives as if the brakes were stuck.  Took a lot of pedal to get it to move.  But, I got it down on the ramp and we loaded the kayaks.  It was obvious as I cleared the ramp there was a problem that was not going away.  It seemed the parking brake was hung-up but, the handle was down as it should be.  I recycled it several times to no avail!!  Finally we called Jeep for a tow since it was still under warranty.  The tow truck showed up quickly and took it to the local Jeep dealer.  They determined it was not the parking brake but the braking system we had installed for when it was being towed.  But, they did get it to release the brakes.  Several days later we found the problem, a malfunctioning piston that was improperly applying the brakes.  So alls well that ends well.
Jeep catching a ride!
Bottom line it was a nice day on the water and an interesting island to paddle around. 

04 June 2011

Geocaching with the Girls

The day dawned bright and sunny (unlike yesterday) and we had promised the Girls to go geocaching! It is sort of a worldwide treasure hunt; you search for hidden caches using GPS info from the website.  You can place caches and/or search for them.  I am in the search mode, since if you place one you also have to be around to check on it periodically.  One of reasons I thought it would be fun was doing it with the Girls.  And, today was our first time geocaching with them.  We all had a ball, but geocaching was only part of the fun.

Frequently, the caches have little trinkets inside them and you trade yours for one in the cache.  Rule is you leave something at least as nice as you take.  Some caches are too small for that, you just sign a log book and go.  We did not want the kids to think of this as a "treasure hunt" for goodies so we decided to go first for a cache that was log book only and it was only about 1/2 mile from the starting point - their house.   Well, it seemed close enough to walk so off we went.  However, the distance on the GPS was "as the crow flies" and after taking a number of turns to follow the available roads and not getting much closer we headed back to get the car!

So we head out in the car and soon find the playground that is our "target".  But, finding a parking place was another issue - a issue the Girls did not understand or like!!  But, eventually we found a spot surprisingly close to the campground!  (Besides, I figured I could spot a cop writing a ticket, if it came to that!)  So after discussing the geocaching plan with the kids, they immediately headed for the playground and forgot all about geocaching!  Which turns out their plan was better then mine!  I searched and searched for the cache and with BJ's help (while she watched the kids, too) homed in on the benches immediately outside the small playground.   A little later I found the cache - it was the smallest I have ever encountered.  About half the size of a sewing thimble and magnetic so it stuck to the metal bench.  Fortunately, the kids were about ready to move on so I showed the cache to them and Reagan was interested in the log which was  a long narrow ribbon of paper rolled up to fit inside.

We pressed on to the next one which was also adjacent to a playground.  While the kids hit the play equipment with BJ in attendance I thought I would check out the cache first.   Fortunate that I did as when I found it it was a little too far off a walking trial through nearby woods and thorns abounded and I knew it was not a good location for the kids.  I went back and after a while we moved on.   The Girls asked about the cache briefly but that was it.

I had one more cache to check out and it was near a local library - I figured BJ would like that one!  BINGO, we found it pretty quickly and it was a gallon plastic jug full of treasures for little geochachers!! 
The Girls and their treasure cache!
Well, after this exciting afternoon of geocacheing we retired to the Girls house and had a cool apple juice together and started planning the next trip!!  Not!