A B&B-Hoppin’ Vacation


Only since marrying Kathleen in 2003 have I learned what staying at a bed-and-breakfast is like. We’ve done it on several short getaways in the past, but this time we took a week-long vacation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Staying ONLY at B&Bs, we returned home this past Wednesday.

What a unique experience! No two places were alike.

Probably the nicest one was at Cape Charles, just a mile north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel coming from Virginia Beach, where we’d spent the day at the Virginia Aquarium and on a Dolphin spotting cruise. The rooms were spacious, and we had a wonderful private balcony, from which I enjoyed taking pictures of the sunset.

    

From there we went to Ocean City, where we stayed at the Inn on the Ocean, which is supposedly the only B&B in Ocean City. What made it so special was it’s right on the boardwalk. Despite Kathleen’s arthritic knee, walking some on the boardwalk wasn’t too much of a problem.

One high point of our time in OC was meeting a former English student of mine–she “just happened” to be coming to OC for the week on one of our days there–for an evening meal. Another high point was a visit to Assateague Island, where we were able to see some of the wild horses.

    

Our room in OC was smaller than at Cape Charles, but the breakfasts were great, and so was sitting on the front porch to eat.

After two days in Ocean City–it has a much better boardwalk than Virginia Beach–we spent two days in Cambridge. Our B&B there, the Albanus Phillips Inn, has quite a history–it’s a restored mansion, and we actually had a suite for the price of a room. Our host sat at the breakfast table with us and told us tale after fascinating tale about the house and about Albanus Phillips himself.

    

Because I used to live in Cambridge, a visit to my old church enabled us to see some of the folks I hadn’t seen in more than forty years. It was the pastor’s last day at the church–he’s retiring–and we were blessed by seeing him and his wife, both of whom had been students of mine while I was still teaching school.

We spent much of Sunday afternoon visiting two of the best friends I’ve ever had and then a lengthy supper with two others. We had to go to Walmart to say hi to one old friend who had to work during the time we didn’t already have plans for.

    

On Monday we drove to Crisfield to take a forty-five minute ferry to Smith Island; although the islanders have vehicles, visitors aren’t allowed to.

    

Since the Island’s two restaurants close at 4:00 when the last ferry to the mainland leaves, our B&B hostess was nice enough (for a reasonable extra cost) to fix us the most wonderful crab cake dinner that evening and provide a slice of famous Smith Island cake, Maryland’s state dessert; it has from eight to ten VERY thin layers. Interestingly, she doesn’t live in the B&B. Since we were the only guests that night, we had the house to ourselves.

          

The house faces the water. Smith Island is VERY small. I don’t know how many people live there, but I suspect the number is in the lower hundreds. Church–the island has only a Methodist church–plays a big part in the lives of the islanders. Most of the islanders are water-men, although some people commute (by ferry, of course) to the mainland to work. Incidentally, the streets are few and quite narrow, and cars don’t have license plates. Crime is non-existent among these folks, all of whom probably know one another.

We enjoyed a private boat ride around the island (Smith Island is actually made up of several tiny islands, each with a town of its own; we stayed at Ewell, the largest town.)

         

On Tuesday we ferried back to the mainland, returned to Cape Charles, and spent another night at the same B&B we’d stayed at on our first night. Not counting the suite in Cambridge, the rooms there were unquestionably the biggest and most comfortable.

It’s impossible to describe a week’s vacation–especially one that was one of our best vacations yet–in a few hundred words or to show you more than a few of the dozens of pictures I took.

If you’ve never stayed in a B&B, you might want to consider trying it sometime. 

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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What Does a Guy like Me Do on Vacation?

Ah, we’re enjoying the midst of summer here in Virginia. The outside temperature right now is 94; it was 100 in the car before I turned on the A/C. That’s hotter than some days, cooler than others. But at least the sun is shining. What a perfect day to do…to do what?

That question is one I ask whenever my wife, Kathleen, starts talking about planning a vacation. And she understands. She knows that my vacations used to consist solely of visiting distant family members. And she understands that–no matter how much I love my family (I’m counting hers as mine since I have practically none of my own left)–that is NOT a vacation, even if we’re able to do one or two activities apart from family.

She understands something else. I have trouble thinking in terms of “vacation.” I can’t come up with activities that please me. Not vacation-worthy activities, anyhow.

Everything seems to have a drawback. Going on a cruise means endless eating…and having to diet for who knows how long afterwards to lose what I gained on the cruise. Going to a dude ranch would mean hours of horseback riding; a few months ago I learned that even an hour of riding caused enough pain to make that unappealing.

We could go to the beach, as we did recently with our daughters and their families–or by ourselves. But I’m not overly fond of the water. And walking the boardwalk time after time gets old after a while. I’ve avoided skin cancer so far, so I’m not tempted to lie out on the beach. I like certain kinds of seafood, but why go to the ocean just for seafood when I can enjoy it thawed and fixed at home?

Lest you think I’m just being picky and perhaps even a bit difficult–let me assure you you’re correct on both counts–let me point out that I am a better judge of what I dislike (or think I would dislike) than of what I actually like. And because I’m retired and sit around all day writing and/or piddling around, going somewhere just to sit around has no appeal. I can read my Kindle just as comfortably at home. However, I did enjoy a short time here by the pool while nobody else was around.

Going to see interesting and/or beautiful things might sound appealing, but I know me. I would spend my time taking pictures of them and then do hours of editing my photos with Affinity Photo software. I can’t wait till I get home to do that. I have to keep up with it as I go along. Go figure.

What vacation activities have I actually enjoyed? Two or three things really stand out from our recent beach week vacation. Although I hadn’t fished in years, being able to walk out the back door of our rented beach house and fish in the canal for catfish was really nice. I don’t think I could do it for endless hours, though. Especially in the hot Florida sun.

  

And a day trip to the Everglades was actually fun. I loved the wildlife we saw there–alligators galore, black buzzards, deer, a very tame wild racoon, and a good-sized grasshopper. And I’d always wanted to ride in one of those air boats. Nonetheless, I lived behind the camera, except when Kathleen was taking a picture of me holding a baby alligator, and then–not unexpectedly– I spent hours editing my pictures.

            

See? I couldn’t even write this blog post without “inpainting” the picture you see below to cover up the band that kept the alligator’s mouth shut so it couldn’t bite me. Don’t I look bold this way?

Hmm. But looking bold isn’t an exciting vacation activity.

I hasten to point out that I’ve been on numerous mission trips–to Nicaragua, England, Wales, Romania, and Australia. Mission trips are not vacations. If the host pastor has enough vision, he can work his team to death. But each mission trip also has times set aside for enjoying the locale. And I truly love that part. Who wouldn’t want to climb the steps to the Sydney Opera House?

Why can’t choosing a vacation be that simple?

I’m open to suggestions for inexpensive vacations that would suit a fuddy-duddy like me. Please comment.

 

    

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Back from Vacation

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post before leaving for church in the hopes it won’t be too late.

Kathleen and I just got back last night from our week at the Isles of Capri, Florida. There we spent time with Kathleen’s single daughter, her younger daughter (with hubby and toddler), and my daughter (with her hubby and two kids, one of whom is still a todler). This trip had been in the planning stages for close to a year. We rented a huge beach house, where each of the four family groups had a separate bedroom and bathroom. This is the house.

And this is all of us.

Although the weather had threatened to be rainy all week, that prediction proved pleasantly inaccurate for the greater part. Although we enjoyed trips to the beach, we spent a lot of time at the house playing Uno and Five Crowns and in the pool. You may not realize this, but pools in Florida are typically totally enclosed and screened in. Unfortunately that didn’t keep the NoSeeUms from feasting on us the first day; I’m still covered with bite marks.

     

Although we opted not to rent a boat, our house backed up to a canal that was perfect for fishing. It had been years since I last fished, but I loved it. Especially the day I caught three catfish. We always threw the fish back, though.

We had our meals all planned out, with each family unit responsible for one dinner. I couldn’t count the number of runs we made to Marco Island (about three miles) to pick up additional food from the nearest Publix grocery store.

Kathleen and I did a few activities on our own. We ate breakfast out three times at this place, BREAKFAST & MORE. After eating there the first time, we didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Our biggest adventure was a trip to the Everglades, where we went on two air boat rides and a swamp buggy ride. To say the least, we learned a lot about the Everglades during the five hours we spent there. Did you know the Everglades is the only place in America that has both alligators and crocodiles? That’s because fresh and salt water come together in certain areas.

          

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said enough for today. As so often happens, I served as the resident photographer of our family get together–I failed to mention earlier that we came from Richmond, Virginia; Las Vegas; New York City; and Orlando–and I spent a lot of my time editing pictures with the Affinity Photo software I’d bought just a few days before heading south.

Comments are welcome.

 

    

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

From the Mountain to the Desert

I’ve shared several posts about our recent vacation in San Diego, California, and I’m sure I could write a number more. You’d probably tire of them long before I would.

But let me share one more–for now.

One day, our friends Tom and Genean took us for a ride east from San Diego (actually Carlsbad) for a day in the mountains. I’m quite used to mountains in the eastern part of the United States–the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains–but what we saw was quite different. Much rockier, as you can see. The mountains are bare of trees, unless they’ve been planted. And even a rocky mountainside may have graffiti. And when I say rocky, I mean BIG rocks.

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Along the way, we passed a number of orchards. Quite a contrast to the rest of the terrain. We never did find out what the worker on the tall ladder was doing.

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We off-roaded down the mountainside. Quite a bumpy experience, but there was only one place–maybe two–where we were actually VERY near a steep drop. Not good for my acrophobia, but we survived.

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The vegetation was pretty desert-like even in the mountains. Check out the cactus my wife is standing by and the tumbleweed.

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Our goal for the day was a town called Julian, famous for apple pies made from local apples. But wouldn’t you know everything there (practically) closed at 5:00 and we were too late for the place we really wanted to go to for a slice each. So we went to the grocery and bought a whole local pie to take home and gorge twice as much on. Sorry my pictures don’t include the pie.

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On the drive home, we stopped to enjoy the sunset.

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No way I could do our visit to the mountains and desert justice with these pictures, but it should give you a flavor of the day. More of these pictures are available HERE.

Any comments? I’d love to hear ’em. Please share.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25.

Best regards,
Roger

The Museum of Making Music

My wife and I just returned from a wonderful week of vacation in San Diego, and I plan to share a couple of my favorite activities with you over the next week or so.  If you’ve been following me any length of time, you know I LOVE music. So it’s only natural that I’d want to post about two of our music-related activities.

NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) has a fascinating museum in San Diego. The name, the Museum of Making Music, sounds offbeat, but what’s inside is well worth spending time looking at–and in some cases drooling over.

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The reception desk is fashioned like a grand piano. In fact, the visitor might not realize what he’s looking at until he notices the Dell computer located in plain sight.

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Any Michael Hedges fans here? I think he’s the fellow who plays a harp guitar like this one:

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Ever seen a five-string banjo built like an electric guitar?

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Or an upright bass with frets and position markers like a guitar? Or is it a cello?

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Interesting information about my favorite web music store:

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How about a horn with two bells? Each one produces a different kind of sound–or so I understand.

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This museum has many places where the visitors can try out different kinds of instruments, like my friend Tom here on the digital drums.

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I can’t begin to do this museum justice, even with these few pictures. If you ever go to San Diego, you should check it out for yourself and see all of the things I haven’t told you about. And rest assured that it’s a LOT cheaper than the Zoo.

Please leave a comment if this post has been interesting.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25. It’s available for pre-ordering HERE.

Best regards,
Roger