A final note

Since it was referenced frequently, here is a view of the Mystic Moonstone attached to a Celtic “luck” knot.

Happy trails, folks, until our next adventure!

Celtic luck

Celtic luck

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Another perspective

I want to thank all who have followed our travels. I had a great time and it was made so much better because of my travel companion. We have done it before but as Tish has noted, it is surprising that we can spend two weeks with each other when we also work together. Tish guided us along and suggested places that she thought I might like. I have to admit that going to a fort was not at the top of my list but after doing the one I was excited to do more and really enjoyed them both. The first week was mostly driving in trees but there was still a lot to see. The second week was more relaxed and that was the way I liked it. Rhode Island and Connecticut surprised me but we really only saw the coast but that is what I wanted most to see. My favorite day was the one we ended up in Galilee, RI for lunch. I loved that view. New York was a whirlwind day but we still saw a lot and got to walk through a protest! Where can you do that in South Dakota? Tish, thanks for spending the two weeks with me and for putting up with my attitude. I had a blast!

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Day 12 – azgals in the Big Apple

or – South Dakota farm girl in the Big City!

We started our day at a run – way too much to do with only a day to do it all. We skipped breakfast (but not my coffee) and took the airport shuttle and then transferred to NJ Transit and headed into Penn Station, NYC! The commuter train was nicer than I remembered from when I was taking commuter trains from CT into the city back in the 80’s but that is hardly worth complaining about. We wandered about Penn station a bit and exited to the street to look about us and give Monica her first view of the city from within. Then we dived back into the city within a city which is the NY city subway system. Its amazing how many stores/shops hide underground! It took us a while to get subway tickets since we got in the obviously wrong line – the woman in front of us did not speak English and was buying her single ride $2.75 ticket with assorted coins that she kept dropping. I was reaching for my wallet to just pay for the ticket when Monica jumped in and retrieved the dropped coins and plugged them into the machine for the hapless traveler. So off we went, through the turnstile and on to the platform – one false turn as we were on the platform for the express trains and as we had not planned to go to Harlem or the Bronx, we went down and over and got the local that we needed and headed uptown.  An uneventful ride later (no subway fire, no undetermined delays, no power outages) and we reached our destination, bought our double decker bus tickets and were finally touring New York City!  Weather was in 60’s, partly cloudy and windy but quite comfortable at that point. Our tour included the Statue of Liberty boat so we decided to stay on the bus until we got to Battery Park and get off there and then back track to Ground Zero. Traffic was very much stop and go but as we got further downtown it was obvious that it was more than normal. The tour guide annoced that there was a demonstration down along wall street and we would have to walk for about 15 minutes to get there. So off we went… right smack into the middle of the demonstration. Monica was like a true New Yorker – she sallied forth and just pushed through the mob – yes, it was just like being on the subway at rush hour, no modesty allowed in the effort to navigate the packed humanity. Fortunately, the protestors were wearing light blue t-shirts and Monica’s purple one was distinctive enough such that I didn’t lose her although my somewhat lesser height required that I periodically bob and weave and hop up & down. We did get through and were able to exchange our vouchers for ferry tickets. Our timing was pretty darn impeccable as we did not have to stand around and wait. It took a bit of time to get through security but the ferry was waiting and we climbed aboard. I’m not quite sure what to say here – if you’ve been to see the lady, you know the impact of that first-hand view … if you haven’t, put it on your list.

After the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island ferry ride we went on a quest for a NYC hotdog from a hotdog stand. Not much of a quest as they are everywhere!

Then we backtracked over to Ground Zero. The last time I was in NY, the memorial had not yet been constructed, although the ground had been cleared. The memorial fountains were impressive. Two towers, two fountains. Beautiful, inspiring. This is where I have trouble writing – the words are hard to find for the impact.

We re-traced our steps then and eventually hooked back up with our tour bus. I have to say, I’m glad we did the tour bus. I’ve been to NY multiple times and was generally rushing about to see this site or another. The bus gave me a chance to really look at the buildings. It’s cool to see the juxtaposition of the old buildings and the new. Its fascinating to watch how they restore and build within the confines of the tight streets. Eventually, we neared the UN building but again were stymied as they were prepping for a visit from the President. We opted to get off and hie our own way to Rockefeller center.. From there we headed out to find a restaurant with craft beer. A bartender in Watertown NY had given us the name of a restaurant that she liked so we plugged it into our handy-dandy smartphones and started walking; eventually ending up at Heartland BrewPub. Ahhh,,,,, nothing quite like a good beer after a day of sightseeing! We had a couple of pints each and some very decent pub fare and headed back down to Times Square and the night tour. By this time it was very windy and chilly so we first stopped into a souvenir shop and found toasty warm sweatshirts.  (oh nooooo…. forced to shop again!!!!!)

For the night tour we decided to be selfish and take outside seats one behind each other on the outside each and across the aisle from the tour guide. Our tour guide turned out to be the same as the one we had had in the afternoon who had a really fun way of presenting NY. A really pleasant couple sat down next to us and we had really entertaining conversations during the ride. They were unable to dispel the myth of the moose for me, however. (Ha! You thought I would not find a way to bring that up during my NYC travelogue!) The night tour took us over the Manhattan bridge and into Brooklyn. The city skyline was all that it should be from that direction. We also got to see the worlds largest Trader Joe’s there in Brooklyn.  Although we were chilled to the bone, we had a great time joking around with everyone while we saw the sights.

When we got back we hitched a ride on an empty tour bus on its way home, and they dropped us off at Penn Station so our weary legs could rest. We reversed our route and returned safely to our New Jersey hotel at around midnight.

And thus endeth Day 12.

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Sidebar – thoughts on a roadtrip buddy

Before I regale you with our day in the city, I thought I might ramble a bit on a good road trip buddy.
You truly do not need to be too much alike. For example, a type-A, who has cats, prefers TV can successfully travel with a type-Z, dog-loving, book-a-holic. For those of you that have experienced Monica and I in a difference of opinion (“that’s the way it is supposed to work!” …. ” trust me, that is not the way it is working!”) with slowly increasing decibel levels, have also experienced us laughing about it later. Trust me, the NJ freeways, road signs and conflict of dueling smartphone instructions generated more than one of these.
Another critical component of a successful road trip buddy, is that you should be capable of being equally embarrassing to each other or on the flip but related side of that be endlessly tolerant of chair dancing in the back of the shuttle bus. So here are my top 5 reasons for liking Monica as my road trip buddy:
5. She was willing to go along with my plan to eat onlyin restaurants serving craft/local beer.
4. A nearly infallible sense of direction (except for a tendency to end up in the ezpass lane when we had no ezpass)
3. She let’s me poke fun at her in our blog (see 4 above)
2. She puts up with my musical idiosyncrities while driving (banging on the steering wheel in time to the music, or as my son always says, about a half beat off, and singing along in some other key than those on the radio)
1. The number one reason ….. she gets up first and makes sure I have coffee when I finally do get up!!!
……
Seriously, #1 is actually that we laugh a lot!

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2 years ago it was antelopes to Zion national park - our Rocky Mountain adventure - this year we are bound for the NE

Day 11 – Beaches & Bridges

Its Sunday and our trip is winding down. We awoke to a rain washed morning and hustled to get out of the nightmare hotel and go get breakfast.as it is Sunday on Long Island, it took a bit to find something other than a $24.95 Sunday brunch but we did find a diner serving a more normal breakfast and enjoyed our meal there.
By the way, at the diner I became involved in trading stories with a couple dining there and they tried to tell me that moose are not mythical and that they had actually seen one in New Hamphire. I’m not sure if I should trust their word or if they are just part of the conspiracy!
From there we headed out to the coast and went over to the Fire Island lighthouse. It’s a fascinated structure and fro the brave at heart ( and sound of knee) you can climb an horrendous circular staircase to the top. We opted to perserve our knees and calves and contented ourselves with the cutaway diagram and model in the museum.
From the same parking lot as the lighthouse, there are paths out onto the beach so we followed the boardwalk out over the dunes and on to the beach where we proceeded to play tag with the Atlantic Ocean. We both became as one with the waves!! Another Zen moment.
When we had enough sea salt and sand between our toes we got back in the car and drove down the Ocean Parkway as far west as we could. In order to minimize our involvement with heavy traffic,we stayed on the southerly route through Queens & Brooklyn, crossing over the Verrazano bridge to Staten Island. This was a first for me – I don’t think I have ever been on a double decker bridge. Whew! That is a lot of cars!! After we crossed over to Staten Island, Monica asked me to pick a spot to stop for lunch. Since I knew nothing about this area, I was a bit concerned on hpw I would choose, until the mystic moonstone sent me a sign…. clove road!!! This one is for my brothers, John & Cris … Clove Road!!! Was there ever a more appropriate place for us to rest?! (Clove was my brothers nickname and in fact they still call each other that at times. Yes,they have the same nickname but somehow we always know which one is which.)
After walking about Clove Lake we headed on into New Jersey and our hotel, arriving there inthe later partofthe afternoon.
Wehad a quiet evening and wrapped itup with Yeungling beer from PA.
Thus endeth day 11 and still no moose!

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Double decker

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Day 10 – CT & Long Island

Well day 10 was a trip down memory lane for me in the AM. I lived in New Haven in the mid-eighties and this was the first time back. 25 years of construction projects made it a bit surreal but I essentially gained my bearings after driving around for a while and found my first apartment. All of the old buildings of Yale are still there so we spent some time prowling around. My favorite is the law school building as it has some great gargoyles on it. The weather was a sunny 65 so perfect for the stroll down the tree shaded streets.
We have clearly been on vacation and out of touch as we were suprised to see a really long queue wending down one of the streets until we rounded a corner and saw that it was not the Yale Bookstore, but was, in fact, the Apple store – stuffed to the gills with new phones! Or clearly, not stuffed enough.
After our stroll we got back in thecar to head to New London and the ferry to New York. After 1 wrong turn (we almost went to Hartford) and 1 detour due to my inability to cross 6 lanes of traffic moving at 55 miles an hour in less than 500 feet, we were successfully on our way. I had not realized previously, but Monica had never been on a ferry… well really, where in South Dakota would you use one? This was a great experience as this ferry was bigger than any I had been on either. 7 lanes of cars fit inside this ferry, and the outside lanes were double deckers! Also making this a great ferry ride is the fact that itlasts 1.5 hours. Still sunny and 65, so we loaded up on sun screen and moved up onto the top deck and gloried in the sun, wind and sea. Ahhhh my mystic moonstone was hard at work attempting perfection with the day.
After landing on the North Fork of Long Island, we stopped andtoured some historical houses which were chock full of interesting exhibits – from finely carved scrimshaw to exquisite old quilts.
Since we were now on an islandin the Atlantic Ocean, we hastened on to find a beach. Quite a bit of it is private, but with the help of my navigator and 2 illegal u-turns we found a place to park with a path to the shore. I proceeded to get my britches soaked while Monica cleverly rolled hers up to avoid that. I just more thoroughly became as one with the waves (my story and I’m sticking to it!)
After a brief photo shoot we meandered onwards and made it to the hotel – omg my mystic moonstone totally let us down here. We frantically got on our smartphones and searched for anything else! Unfortunately, Saturday night on Long Island is pretty much booked so we decided to laugh at it and get on with our lives.
We searched the internet and found that the Nutty Irishman carried numerous craft beers so our final destination of the day was easily orchestrated. We both chosd the Blue Point IPA. Actually not our final destination as on our way back to the car we discovered an open chocolate shop.Yummmmmm chocolate! Thehe perfect end to any day.
Thus ended day the 10th
PS: still no moose

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Day 9 – Rhode Island – where are your street signs???

This day started much the same as the past 8. Monica gets out of bed and has the coffee ready for me ( now you know why I like traveling with her ) before I have to struggle awake. Of course, as always I had stayed up late into the night to write this blog. [Why yes, Steve,I even put off blogging until the last possible minute to get it done before the end of the day. It’s not just work that I put off.]
We went out to breakfast and after reviewing the cute touristy map from the hotel decided on our route. Well as I am frantically looking for a street name on the map we found ourselves near our hotel again when we didn’t even think we were close. Next thing we knew we had passed thelast exit before going over the toll bridge. Ah well, it was extremely scenic. We looped back around and resumed our quest for Fort Adams. We again thought we were doing well until the road we were on and should have taken us there turned into a one way street going the wrong way!!! Another heavy sigh and we tried one nd then another and finally found oursleves on the mansion tour – these houses are like mini castles!!! We persevered and finally found our way to Fort Adams. It was amazingly large and was very hi-tech for the early 1800’s. Also big – Forts McHenry, Ticonderoga and Sumter would all fit inside it. It was a very cool tour and added to my knowledge of forts and cannon ( not that the font of my knowledge on that subject was excessive to start with!).
After the tour we headed out of Newport. A few unmarked streets and dead-ends later we recrossed the bridgeand were heading south on the Atlantic coast highway, US 1. As it was after a normal lunchtime we decided to go for a random stop along the way. Monica was driving so I randomly decided we show head south on RI 1A. We deadended at the water and left turn left us in the town of Gallilee RI. This turned into the perfect lunch and souvenir stop. We had lunch on a deck overlooking the bay and a great little souvenir shop was right next door! After asuccessful souvenir hunt we boogied out of there and proceeded on our way to Connecticut.
I was driving, which was a good thing since driving around New Haven was quite the experience. One or two things have changed since I lived there, 28 years ago, so it was a voyage of discovery. Of course the Yale vuildings were stikk in situ, so as long as I used the to guide me, I didn’t get overly lost. We drove by my apartment on Prospect street as well as driving by the common and a multitude of Yale buildings.
It was getting late by then, so we drove on to our hotel. Havinggotten a little sick of restaurants, we bought food at the grocery and took it back to the hotel.
Tonights microbrew was fro Long Trail brewing and we had the amber ale…. see pic below.
Thus endeth day 9 ….. still nary a moose

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The bridge so nice, we traversed it thrice

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Day 8 – Lazy Days

Every vacation needs a lazy day and I think today was one of those. We were decidedly lazy this morning but were finally on the road at around 10. We had spent some time pondering maps of the NE and finally chose an interim destination of Gloucester, MA for today’s lazy meandering. The drive was uneventful and we arrived to bright sunshine and balmy 72°. “Ah-ha” you say. “Tish must be wearing her mystic moonstone in order to guarantee such perfect weather!” Well of course you are right. We had enough bad luck yesterday to make me unwilling to risk that again!
We made it safely to the visitors center and picked up brochures and planned our visit. We decided that “The Fort” and the west end walk.a We walked and walked and NO fort. There was a fort street but apparently the fort itself is long gone. Oh well, it was a beautiful day. We wandered on and saw a fishing vessel come in and watchecd them unload for a while but eventually decided it was past time for some old fashioned chowdah! A table on the water and a bowl.of chowder with those cute octagonal crackers. Ahhh perfection!
We then spent some time meandering through antique and art shops. We eventually had enough of wandering and got back in the car and headed for Newport Rhode Island. Road construction on I95 (and when isn’t there?) made the drive longer than hoped but again was reasonably uneventful and we arrived before the dinner hour so we had time to revel in our ability to get connected again after last night’s pitiful wi-fi.
We located a good Brew Pub not too far away from our hotel and went to have dinner at Coddington Brew Pub where we both indulged in their pale ale. In other gustatory news, I had the rib eye and Monica had the Nachos Supreme. I know we may not seem very exotic diners but we have maintained our commitment to micro-brews only for our beer consumption.
We are looking forward to a day on the RI and CT coastline tomorrow as well as some time around my old stomping grounds in New Haven.
Thus endeth day 8.

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Oooohhhh - ahhhhhhhh

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Time for "chowdah"

Day 7 – should have worn the mystic moonstone

Well day 7 started out perfect, but it ended up not perfect down to andincluding lousy wi-fi at the motel which not only caused me to not be able to upload my post but also caused me to lose it!
We did wakeup to a glorious morning in Maine. We had an early breakfast and headed out towards New Hampshire and ziplining. It was an uneventful drive with ourmusical score varying from one classic rock to the next. Again, many signs telling me to watch for moose, but nary a moose was seen. We reached NH with plans to “live free or die”, primarily by screaming our way down a zip line. We were most disappointed to arrive and find the place closed (monica’s emotion might have been slightly stronger than disappointment). Anyway, we recovered and had a delightful lunch at Peaches in Conway – I had curried chicken salad and Monica had a shrimp salad flat bread sandwich.
From there we took the scenic route thru NH into the lakes region around Laconia. Since we were now short a “Z” activity we set out to find one. We ended by having a “zen”  moment at “ze lake”.
We continued that evening on the quest to find a restaurant serving local beers. Wednesday’s choice was Hector’s in Laconia and the bre was 603’s 18 mile rye pale ale.
Thus endeth day 7.

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In Laconia

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