Sunday, July 31, 2022

Maritime Museum; A Good Luck Figurehead; Museum Artifacts; Blessing of the Combines; Hershey, PA; Omega Institute; Herkimer, NY; Bike 'n Beer! Wine Country; Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; Polygamy????

  When last I posted we were in St. Michaels, Maryland, to take possession of our new-to-us boat. We went on a bike ride there to the Maritime Museum, a Very Cool Place! Not only are there beautiful historic homes (this one was a ship's captain's)...

but also a busty figurehead from a sailing ship in the early 20th Century, when political correctness wasn't an issue. (Ah, for the Good Old Days!) This is Miss Freedom.... she was displayed at the bow of the 88 foot John Alden designed schooner Freedom when she was part of the US Naval Academy's fleet in the 1930s. Legend has it that the figurehead was removed to save weight during races, and displayed in the Naval Academy Museum for years, and Midshipmen would rub her ample breasts for good luck. Unfortunately, one dumb lad wrote his mother about this tradition, and she wrote to the Naval Academy Superintendent complaining... the Admiral then offered Miss Freedom to the Maritime Museum on indefinite loan so as not to corrupt the young midshipmen (then, all males... Sigh..... "Thanks, Mom!")

Also, I would be remiss not to show My Lovely Bride and our Loyal Dachshunds Nellie and Rusty on the foredeck of our 2003 trawler, Gratitude...

After getting back on the road, we spent one night in a campground in Westover, Maryland, where MLB had a curious encounter with two pieces of ancient history... you can see that she is confused, and wondering what one is to do with these museum artifacts...

You've undoubtedly heard of the Blessing of the Fleet in various ports in Europe and the US. I was chagrined to find that we would not be in town for the local land-based version of this event. I suggested to MLB that we change our summer plans and drive back, but alas, was turned down...

So, from Maryland, we motored the bus to Hershey, PA, and while I groused at the unnecessarily insane price of diesel fuel ($6.10/gallon), it was a delightful week long stop. (At least when we were in Hershey, I didn't have to throw money away at Flying J or Pilot...) Hershey is special because Suzanne's dad, Bill Smeltzer, was a student at the Milton S. Hershey School for Boys in the 1930s, as was his brother. When their father died, their mom couldn't afford to raise them, so they went to the Hershey School as orphans. Bill graduated from Hershey High School and worked for Milton Hershey for a few years before getting a job as a railroad engineer, shoveling coal on steam engines. (As a side note, when I knew him, in his 80s and 90s, he still had a grip of steel!) Milton Hershey was an amazing man who gave away his entire fortune to fund the Milton S. Hershey School, which is running strong today, helping kids from around the world. What an example he set for us all!

From Hershey, it was a relatively short drive to Rhinebeck, NY, just off the Hudson River, where Suzanne presented a workshop at the Omega Institute. As always, it was sold out, and what a great group of folks!

We had a delightful dinner with Annie Bond at her lovely home in the woods. Annie is an amazing energy healer who has helped Suzanne on several occasions and been a guest on Suzanne's podcast. Annie also took us on a fabulous hike on Poet's Walk near the shore of the Hudson River.

Omega Institute is a Very Cool Place, well organized and in a beautiful setting. Her students loved the workshop, and came from as far away as Pakistan and England!

From Omega, we drove upstate to Herkimer, where we stayed in a campground adjacent to two "diamond" mines. Actually, the stones are clear quartz, but it was fun mining for them for a couple of hours. Here is MLB sluicing.... 

One of the mines had this famous quote attributed to George Orwell, of Animal Farm fame. His words are timeless, as is his book which foresaw where we are headed today.... the other signs read "I support our troops" and "God Bless America". (Would that every American felt that way...)

I did some mining myself, and presented Suzanne with a decent sized "diamond"....

Our campsite at Herkimer was right on the river, and we enjoyed the scenery with our puppies; they sit in a playpen while we read, and fortunately, the bugs haven't been too bad.

This photo gives you some idea why we love nature so much... who could not be happy here?

We stayed at a KOA Kampground in Herkimer - it was unusual in that there were a couple of very unusual "Kabins"... this was the neatest, with a huge moose antler rack!

Here is a good shot of our bus; I like it because it was taken from above, and you can see all the equipment on the roof (air conditioners, horns, etc.). "Barb" towers 13' 4". The max height allowed on US highways without special permits is 13' 6". There have been a few occasions where there was a "pucker factor" with height, but we are getting used to it now...

From Herkimer, we moved on to Hammondsport/Bath, NY. (Our campground claimed both in their name.) The New York Finger Lakes district is known for its wineries. A visit to the nearby Doctor Konstantin Frank Winery was obligatory. The wines were good, but Rusty kept asking for a taste; I told him that at less than two years old, he was too young.

Bath, NY, had some interesting old Victorian houses. This one could use some attention, but we agreed that we didn't have the energy, time or money to invest in this fixer upper.

Keuka Lake is a big boating area, and a local classic boat show made for a fun stop. Lots of old '50s and '60s wood boats brought back some nostalgic memories... for both of us, since Suzanne was stowed under the foredeck on her parents' wood runabout at the tender age of 2 weeks! No wonder she likes boats!

This woman's bike with a can of beer in the water bottle holder was a surprise. There are some running events in California where you run from pub to pub and have a beer at each one, but riding a bike while enjoying a beer could be hazardous... of course, in hot weather, one should always stay hydrated, and beer is mostly water, right??? Note to self: next time you research "girls, bikes and beer" on Google, don't be watching a video of Daytona and Sturgis motorcycle chicks in skimpy outfits when YLB walks by..." Smack!

Our next stop was Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio... to visit our dear friends Mitch and Karen Crawford, and for Suzanne to present her Personal Mediumship course. The Crawfords hosted us at a fabulous Wagyu brisket dinner with their daughter, (the Amazing) Grace, who is just about to start her freshman year at the University of Miami (Ohio). Also, Karen is an amazing cook - her Whoopie Pies and chocolate chip cookies transported me to dessert Nirvana!

Karen and Mitch took us sightseeing around the area. We had never been to central Ohio, and it was a fun visit! Here we are in beautiful surroundings with beautiful friends!

Karen took us biking on a local Bike and Hike Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park; what a fun ride, lots of shade kept us reasonably cool in the mid-July heat.

A stop at a farmer's market was great, but Karen's photo of Our Pack was one of the best we've seen. Rusty and Nellie were so happy to have been taken along on an outing with Karen and Mitch!!!

Suzanne's workshop was well received, and as you can see, she was having as much fun as her students! Thanks also to Karen and Mitch for their hard work at the workshop all weekend!!!

Finally, here is one of the most attention-getting signs I've ever seen. We were driving past this in Savona, NY, a quiet little village, when I slammed on the brakes and said, "Holy Cow! I wonder if this is a guy or woman's sign? Savona must be a swinging place!" MLB replied, "Don't even go there or get any bright ideas, Ty!" Smack!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

NAS Oceana; Check Six Lounge; Chincoteague; Gratitude; Cambridge; Oxford; Annapolis; US Naval Academy; St. Michaels; The Inn at Perry Cabin

After New Bern, NC, we stopped for a night in Virginia Beach. Our campground was near Naval Air Station Oceana, the East Coast version of NAS Miramar, where Top Gun was filmed. We made an obligatory stop at the Officers' Club bar, the Check Six Lounge (named for the warning that aviators give to watch their 6 o'clock, or rear, a very vulnerable position when in aerial combat).

The naval aviators were mostly out flying, but we did get to meet six NROTC midshipmen who were attached temporarily to a training fighter squadron for familiarization. They were some of the best and brightest young men and women we have met. From colleges across the country, they are eager to serve their nation as naval officers and Marines. In the bar was a table set for servicemen and women who are Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA), a sobering reminder that military service is not all just fun and games...

Phyllis, the long time bartender, told us lots of stories about the history of the bar, and many of the memorabilia there. We are standing in front of a vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly from an F/A-18 Hornet.

This is from an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare/jammer aircraft, hence the lightning bolt in a mailed fist symbol. These specialized aircraft fly into heavily defended areas in advance of attack aircraft to stimulate enemy fire, identify threats, and reduce the effectiveness of enemy radars and missiles using jamming or anti-radar HARM missiles. Their flight crews are said to have have "brass balls"...

From Virginia Beach, we headed up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, spending four days on Chincoteague Island, Virginia's only resort island. There are no high rises, boardwalk or traffic jams. Here is Beach Girl - no bikini, because we rode to the beach on our bikes. Darn... and note the terrible crowds... I think there was someone about a mile away!

From Chincoteague, we moved north to Cambridge, Maryland, where we have enjoyed two delightful weeks on Chesapeake Bay aboard our 2003 trawler Gratitude. We spent two days with Jim, the previous owner, getting to know her systems and idiosyncrasies (like people, boats have them, too).  

A day cruise to Oxford's Robert Morris Inn (the oldest inn in the USA) for crab cakes with Jim was our first underway as Gratitude's owners.

We enjoy walking the docks at marinas, and we are always amused by at least one strange boat name. When we were cruising, the most bizarre was Blueberry Pancakes... but this sailboat took the prize. Can you imagine listening on Channel 16 and hearing her captain request a bridge opening or a marina berth? 

Two days in Annapolis, Maryland, was a delight. We moored right downtown in "Ego Alley", probably the very best spot in town.

Two hours after we arrived, there was a knock on the hull, and we heard a, "Jim, are you aboard?" I walked out to find the previous owner's brother-in-law, Dennis Brady, looking down from the dock. You will note that Dennis does not live in Annapolis. He lives two states away and was in Annapolis on business. Imagine his surprise to look over and see the boat named after his sister tied to the pier! We invited him aboard, and had several glasses of wine together. Dennis is a medical devices expert who developed a system to repair broken pelvises... way over my head, but very cool technology. See his web site at

Did I mention funny boat names???? Well, here is one of the best... can you guess what they may be thinking/drinking? Ha! (And yes, that is a fully stocked bar above "Princess"...)

No stop in Annapolis would be complete without a visit to the US Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, USNA provides a top notch education to young men and women who want to serve their country. Here are MLB and myself in front of Bancroft Hall, the Brigade of Midshipmen's "dormitory". We both taught at the Naval Academy, Suzanne in the 90s and I in the... er... 70's... (Nah, it could not POSSIBLY have been that long ago!!!) As you can see, these two sailors did not let a little rain slow them down.)

Suzanne taught Political Science, and even better, taught offshore sailing aboard these 44 ft sloops that "sail like witches", as the saying goes. The boats have great names like Honor, CourageCommitmentAdventurous, Fearless, Courageous, and DaringIt was exactly 26 years ago this week that she escorted a crew of midshipmen from Maryland to Maine and back on their summer cruise. She says she remembers the date because we had just been married in the Naval Academy chapel and she hated to leave me for this arduous duty!

Boating on the Chesapeake Bay requires vigilance, as you may end up cruising with the big boys.... this ship was on her way to Baltimore.

Suzanne is seen here keeping up with work on the bridge while I was driving. She was getting support and inspiration from Nellie and Rusty!

A two day stop in St. Michaels, MD, for our 26th anniversary (just a few days early) was a real treat. Here is My Lovely Bride at our dinner at St. Michaels Bistro - am I lucky or what?

A bike ride in town was mandatory, and we rode over to The Inn at Perry Cabin, where we had visited with daughter Susan many years ago.

The Inn at Perry Cabin is legendary - it was built in 1816 by Purser Samuel Hableton, a veteran of the War of 1812 and an aide to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, famed for his message, "We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop" following the victorious Battle of Lake Erie against the British. Commodore Perry (pictured below) was the quintessential naval officer, fearless and courageous in nine battles before and after Lake Erie. This was the first time in history that an entire Royal Navy squadron had surrendered.

On our departure from St. Michaels, we cruised past a log canoe sailboat race- since the 1840s these oyster boats have raced. There are only 22 log canoes left, and no longer work the oyster beds. Crews of 8 sail them, and you can see 4-5 crew (mostly big guys) being used as ballast on the windward side of the boat, since these are very shallow draft boats with big sails.

Finally, here are the male crewmembers of Gratitude... a happy man and his faithful dog, Rusty.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Fallen Heroes - Apache Police and US Marines; Back the Blue; Semper Fidelis

One of the "movements" that we read about is to "Defund the Police"....  A close friend sent me news the other day of two fallen heroes, members of the Apache Nation Police Force. Only about 20 of these young men and women patrol 1.8 million acres of reservation and respond to 32,000 calls per year. The photos here show the wives and children of the fallen officers, and two members of Secret Santa's ELF force who made contributions to the families to cover basic necessities. A third police officer who was shot in a separate incident is also one of Secret Santa's ELFs. She was shot four times, but survived. Try to think about the sacrifices these men and women make to provide some order to other peoples' lives. Put yourself in their position; one of the officers was in a car chase, and the perp struggled with the officer, shot and killed him, and escaped with his weapon and patrol car. Thankfully, he was stopped and neutralized before he could kill again. 

As you may have read in the last blog post, our Sergeant Susan died 16 years ago this past week. We have a soft spot in our hearts for all Marines, so it was especially sad when we learned of the crash of a Marine Corps Osprey aircraft last week with all hands on board killed, on the same day Susan died in 2006. Fewer than 1% of Americans serve their country in military uniform these days, and with budget cuts imposed by irresponsible politicians, these young men and women are suffering more casualties than in years past. These five young men are all from small towns across America. They wanted to serve their country, and died in that service. Like the Apache policemen and women discussed above, these Marines and their families deserve our utmost respect and admiration. God bless them all. Semper Fidelis! Donations to fallen Navy personnel and Marines can be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at

                                            Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois

                                        Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire

                                        Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson County, Wyoming

                                                    Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California

                                        Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico