Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorial Day Whale-Watching tour, Part 2

This is a humpback mother and calf

Of the whales that we saw, only humpback whales do the tail flip and only when they dive.

It took an hour and a half before there were any whale sightings and I missed the first one.  It was a minke whale.  Minkes are the smallest of the whales that we saw.  They get to about 25 ft.  Then we saw some humpback whales, a harbor porpoise, a fin whale and the minke.  The fin whales can get up to 75 ft. and are 2nd only to blue whales in size.  Humpbacks get to 50-55 ft.  Frankly, we couldn't tell the difference.  The tour guide said that there are 4000 recognized humpbacks in the Gulf of Maine (which is where we were).  They are identified by the patterns on the fluke (the underside of their tail).  The patterns are black and white and are different for each whale.  We were thrilled to see them!
Thank goodness Emma likes to read chapter books now!  She was getting pretty wound
up and it was nice to have her sit and quietly read.

The trip back was somewhat long and we were all getting tired by then.  Thank goodness we all had something quiet to do, either a DS or book or sudoku.
If you are of a certain age and this statue seems familiar to you, there is a reason!  Find out here.

Across from the statue, there were lists of years and names of men who died at sea, starting in the early 1700's.
Some sad years had long lists.  In 1879, 249 men were lost.  You can read more about it here.

I love this picture!

I thought that the Fishermen's Wives Memorial was particularly poignant. Considering the number of men who lost their lives each year, these women literally did not know when or if they would ever see their husbands again. A quotation from the Gloucester Fishermen Wives Association reads, "Envisioned by the wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of Gloucester fishermen, the memorial honors not only the faith, diligence, and fortitude of the wives of fishermen and mariners everywhere but also honors all women for their unselfish contribution to the well-being of their families and communities."
You can read more about both memorials here.
Mention a seafood restaurant to the youngers and the typical response is, "No!!!! Not seafood!!!!!!!"  We assured them that there would be food that they liked too even though the restaurant was called "Lobsta Land".  I mean, how could we not have seafood after a whale-watching trip?

The scallops were good (although I still like the ones I have had at Waterfront Grill the best) but my favorite dish was the crab cakes, mmmmm!
So we started the day with food and ended it the same way.  Typical!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Whale-Watching tour, Part 1

 When I told Dave that I wanted to do a whale-watching tour out of Gloucester (pronounced Gloster), he realized that there would be a Sonic nearby and got very excited about it.  We have missed Sonic since moving to Massachusetts, (there isn't one close to us) especially the cranberry limeade.
I think he was more excited about Sonic than the whale-watching.

Garrett and Alyssa are good buddies most of the time.
 The day was quite overcast and warm and humid.  It was nice to be able to sit outside to eat even though it was noisy because of the traffic and the guy who was hosing off the parking lot.   Massachusetts is very green in the summertime and quite beautiful.  I hadn't realized how rural much of the state would be.  Like most people, when I thought of Massachusetts I thought of Boston but much of it has winding narrow country roads lined with many varieties of trees.  It is gorgeous!

 Alyssa and Emma

Alyssa had a cup malfunction but she is quite resourceful.  She wasn't going to let a drop go to waste!

The town of Gloucester is an old fishing village that has been around for 400 years.  It is known as America's oldest seaport.  It is on Cape Ann and is about 45 minutes north of Boston.
 If you are interested in learning more about Gloucester, they have a website here.  It is an interesting place and was the site of the book and movie The Perfect Storm, which was based on a true story. I haven't seen the movie but I'd like to re-read the book after visiting Gloucester.  It is also the setting for Rudyard Kipling's Captain Courageous.
Garrett and Alyssa with a view of the harbor behind them

There was a big stack of lobster pots waiting to be used.  Diana was thrilled to see them.

Unfortunately Emma didn't cooperate in this picture but the boat we went on is in the background.

Still trying to get a good picture
We were told to bring winter gear because it gets quite chilly when the boat is on the water.  While we were waiting, it was very humid with no breeze and we were stifling and anxious to get going.
Ten Pound lighthouse
 On the way out of Gloucester Harbor we passed Ten Pound lighthouse.  There are several stories about how the lighthouse got its name, the most common being that the white settler's paid 10 pounds for the island to the natives.  You can read more about the lighthouse here.

Hammond castle
On the other side of the harbor from the lighthouse is Hammond castle.  The owner, John Hammond, was an inventor who was 2nd only to Edison in number of patents.  He was known as either the Father of Radio Control or Remote Control depending on which source you are reading.  The tour guide told us that his parents lived down the street in their own castle and that John built his after arguing with them but I was unable to find that story anywhere online.  The castle is open for tours (I want to go!) and their website is here.

Once we got out of the harbor and on the open ocean, we were going at a pretty fast clip.  It did get pretty windy and chilly, especially on the front of the boat.  We tried to re-create one of our favorite pictures from the Seattle ferry but it didn't quite work.  It was fun trying anyway!
The boat we were on was built for 300 passengers but they limit the number to 149.  I think it had less than that while we were on it.  The tour guide was a marine biologist and told us plenty of interesting things about whales while we were heading out to the Stellwagen Bank which is a prime spot for whale watching.  We are lucky to be living so close to it!  Learn more about it here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wow it’s been a long time!

There is no way I can replay almost the entire last year so I'm not even going to try. I doubt anyone would want to read it all anyway! Suffice it to say that our holidays were nice, everyone survived the year and are all now a year older, and some people have big things going on in their life. J I will post some of those things later. The exciting thing for me, which will make it all easier for me to blog, is that I have my own laptop and have installed MS Word 2007 on it. No longer do I have to fight with 4 other people to get access to a computer! Just as a teaser from our latest vacation, here's a picture:

I'm sure you all can figure this one out!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Highs and Lows of Fall

I really love Fall in New England and will do a post on it once the leaves finishing turning into their glorious fall colors. The weather is perfect, highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's.
But those aren't the high's and low's I'm talking about. I'm talking about the start of school. I am always anxious for school to start by the end of summer. I am ready to put an end to the endless negotiating over how much tv to watch (I usually end up giving up by the end of summer), the bored kids, tired of the constant noise. The start of school is a relief to all of that and those precious quiet hours are wonderful. I always forget, however, just how necessary that quiet time is to my sanity and to be able to endure the after school craziness!
The start of school not only brings home tons of paperwork, pto forms, open houses, etc. etc. but it is also the start of Field Hockey season. Field Hockey literally takes over Diana's life with practices or games until 5 or later every afternoon. That actually will be the subject of another post as well, lots of drama with Field Hockey this year.
Anyway, it means that my only extra driver is too busy to help. Every day we have some sort of after school activity, Tae Kwan Do, saxophone lessons, scouts, homework, practicing and trying to fit dinner in somehow, orthodontist and dentist visits, it all makes me crazy at times! Garrett came last week wanting to add an afterschool flag football and Alyssa wants to start Tae Kwan Do but I just can't see how I can fit it in! As it is, I am resorting to teaching them piano lessons on Sunday afternoons. I usually prefer for them to take from someone else and I like my Sundays for rest, but there it is. I don't know how else we can do it...

Did I mention that Dave is out of town a lot in the fall??

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer's Over

Okay, I've been a slacker for the last couple of months or however long it has been. I'm finally doing another blog post!
It was a very strange summer for me, being stuck in bed for a couple of months wasn't much fun and I couldn't drive until just about a month ago so I couldn't take the kids anywhere. I could, however, sit out with them at the pool. Thank Goodness we have a pool or it would have been a miserable summer for us all!
I never thought I would feel that way about a pool. I really didn't want one, it just happened to come with the house that we wanted. There were too many stories of people we knew whose child or grandchild drowned or nearly so in their backyard pool for me to feel comfortable with it. It does have a fence around it but I still get a bit nervous.
What I didn't realize is just how much we would enjoy the pool! It is great during the summer months when the kids are bored and watching too much tv. I just say "Let's go swimming!" and we head outside for hours at a time, quite often inviting a friend or two to join us. It's a great way to entertain too. A cookout and swim party is much easier than a more formal dinner party. It has been used this summer by our branch several times too: youth activities, a young women float and flick (they watched Jaws), and a primary activity.
Our children all swim really well too, except for Emma who is still learning. Last summer she wouldn't even get in the pool and screamed through her swim lessons. This summer she swam all over with her vest on and even went off the diving board and slide. The last couple of times in the pool Jenna helped her swim without the vest and she is getting it!

Here are some of our favorite swim pictures from this summer:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Favorite Movie

I love this movie!!!

I have always enjoyed books and movies about people who go through extreme difficulties in their lives and still manage to find hope and beauty in the world. Life is Beautiful is another favorite movie even though he dies in the end (sorry if I have ruined it for anyone). The Diary of Anne Frank, Schindler's List, I could probably think of several more, and books like The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, all really inspire me.

I think that Cinderella Man is my favorite because not only does Jim triumph over the trials of poverty and keeping his family together but he becomes a better person precisely because he has been through those trials and he uses them to his advantage. When his family is being torn apart because they can't pay the bills, he humbles himself and goes to ask for money from the people who told him he didn't have what it takes to be a fighter any more. When he goes to work on the docks even though his right hand was broken, he learns to work mostly with his left hand thereby making what was a major weakness for him into a major strength.

I especially love when he fights Max Baer at the end. Max Baer has killed a man in the ring and threatens to kill Jim. He is arrogant and narcissistic, a thoroughly unlikable person. Jim doesn't brag, he just goes in and does what he needs to do, the humble man quietly defeating the braggart. I love it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fenway Fun

One of the perks of living near Boston is being able to attend a Red Sox game now and then.

We used to be Atlanta Braves fans because we used to live in the Atlanta Metro area in the late 80's, early 90's. That was when the Braves went from worst to first in one season. They lost the World Series that year but you wouldn't know it from the parade they had.
I was not a baseball fan back then and Dave was traveling every week and we had 3 very young children so you would think that I would be going to bed early and getting lots of sleep.
I was as caught up in the frenzy as anyone else! It was crazy with people decorating their cars and houses in red and blue and with big tomahawks and everyone talking to everyone about the games and exhausted from not getting enough sleep. It was fun!
Then we moved to Montgomery. People there are still Braves fans but it wasn't the same. We did go to games now and then courtesy of Dave's work. I even went to a World Series game in 1995 and saw people like Ted Turner and Jane Fonda and Spike Lee.

Then we moved to Massachusetts. I think that it is a requirement when you move here to be Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics fans. We were lucky that all three teams were doing really well so it made it a lot more fun and easy to change allegiances.
Last night, the Red Sox faced the Braves. There was a little part of me that is still a Braves fan but I don't really know the players any more so I was glad that the Sox won. Go Sox!

One of the really fun things about going to Fenway is just the history of the park. The Green Monstah (Monster) is famous and Babe Ruth played there, how fun is that! It is really cool just to be there and be part of the tradition of the place, including singing "Sweet Caroline" during the 7th inning stretch. The players are loved, especially now that Manny Ramirez is gone. (Yooouuuuuukkk!)
Another fun thing is listening to the fans with their brash attitudes and Boston accents. I mean Really fun. It just makes me laugh. It's a great people-watching place!
I didn't get to go last night of course, with my cast and walker, but I hope to go next time!