Monday, August 27, 2012

We started the day with a small breakfast and then decided we'd go "uptown" to explore that part of the city. Central Park was our destination.  We ventured up Park Avenue toward 59th Street. The weather was sunny but not too hot, so it it made the walk a pleasure. As we got to 59th Street, I recalled there was an FAO Schwarz toy store there, so we took a look. Sure enough, it was still in the same place. The store, of course, is well known for its toy selection -- but maybe best  known because of the movie Big with Tom Hanks. It's the store in which Hanks and his boss played the piano by "foot". An interesting note is the Apple Store just outside the store. It was below ground, but a large glass cage surrounds the elevator and stairs to the store. The Apple Store was very crowded but we had a chance to walk around the "get on-line" for a little while.

We ventured into Central Park and met a tour guide with a horse and buggy across the street. We decided against the tour when we found it was $50 for 20 minutes. Maybe next time! We walked in the Park up to 76th Street looking for the family of Peregrine Falcons which had made their home in the eves of one of the buildings along Park Avenue. Unfortunately we didn't find them. By now it had started raining, so even the bird-watchers were not present.

As the rain increased in intensity, we chose to take a bus downtown and seek shelter in a movie theater. We saw a good movie called Premium Rush. The movie took place in New York City and we saw many of the sights we had just visited over the last few days. Great fun. After the movie, it was getting late by now, dinner time as a matter of fact, so we agreed that Italian food was our preference. But where to go?? But wait! This is New York, so we chose Little Italy as our destination. A quick ride downtown on the "N" train to Canal Street and we were comfortably seated in a nice Italian restaurant. We sat next to a couple from Germany and struck up a nice conversation with them. They were on a 3 week visit to the U.S. and are on their way to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.As we finished dinner, and were leaving, we wished them well and a safe trip. Meeting people is always a highlight we like to experience when we travel.

So, today is our last day of our trip. Tomorrow morning we're off to Laguardia Airport and a ride home via Southwest Airlines. It's been an action filled month -- but we've enjoyed every minute of it.

What's next?? Oh, I don't know, but stay tuned.....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Linda, Laura and Issie
This was the day we were visiting Linda's cousins in Queens. They're "kosher", so we wanted to be sure and take a gift that would fit their life style. So, in keeping with our desire "not to offend", we made our way back to Schimmel's Knish Bakery  on Houston Street for an assortment of knishes!! While there, of course, we each had a knish and a egg-cream. Both were great.

We boarded the "F" train for Queens at about 2:15 p.m. It's about a 40 minute subway ride and then a bus to our destination. We found their apartment on 79th Avenue and had a great visit. They're in their 90's, but both Laura and Issie are sharp as a tack! They live on the third floor -- with no elevator I might add -- and have lived in the same apartment for 61 years! Our visit was delightful. Linda, Laura and Issie caught up on family news and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. It turns out that Issie was a World War II veteran, so he had a lot of interesting stories to tell.

So, tomorrow is our last day of our East Coast visit. We've had a great time, but both of us are ready to return home and to the routine of our daily lives. This evening we'll get a drink at a nearby watering-hole and get a good nights sleep.

Stay tuned.........

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Today was a pretty simple day. We started out visiting the street fair along Lexington Avenue near Grand Central. There are several blocks of vendors and eateries all looking to sell you their goods. The street was packed with visitors and residents from all over the City. Lots of fun.

We then made our way to 49th Street and Sixth Avenue and took the train back to Coney Island. Along the way, we stopped at Sheepshead Bay. This is the neighborhood I lived in during most of 1964. I didn't find the exact apartment, but I did remember the street and the fact there was a school adjacent to the house (I lived in a "walk down" underneath a residence).  I didn't recall anything about the neighborhood or the shopping. Obviously it has been a long time since I was there and things change. But the street itself was the same.
"In" the Wonder Wheel!

We then boarded a bus and continued our way to Coney Island. We decided to revisit our  pleasant day there. It was delightful. We made a stop at Nathans Famous (hotdogs) and danced on the boardwalk to a rock D.J. The crowd was  having a great time -- clapping their hands, dancing in place and rockin' to the music.

This evening we had dinner at a new eatery round the corner. It just opened and is a buffet. We saw it yesterday, and the food looked great.  It turns out that, across the street from the restaurant, is the Hofbrau House (Munich) -- a New York City "branch". We climbed the stairs to the floor above the street and enjoyed 1/2 liter of German Ale -- Hofbrau style. Linda and I had been the Hofbrau in Munich July 2011, so it was fun to relive that experience New York style.
Lincoln Center

We discovered there is a film theater at the Lincoln Center showing independent films, so we set out around 8:30 p.m. to find our way there. We took a cab to make it easy.  Once there, we found that a free concert was being presented in the court yard of the Center. It was fabulous music performed by one of the premier orchestras in the world. We enjoyed ourselves as we listened and watched the many attendees.

More to come.............

Friday, August 24, 2012

Staten Island Ferry
As usual, we started out in Starbucks this morning. It was past 10 a.m. before we headed out for the day, but we made our way downtown to the very bottom tip of Manhattan. We took the subway to the South Ferry station and decided to take a trip to Staten Island on the ferry. It turns out one can ride the ferry for "free". We enjoyed the trip across the bay to Staten Island and disembarked. There isn't too much by the ferry building, but we did walk around the waterfront a bit, taking in the flavor of the city. The ferry runs every 30 minutes or so, so it didn't take too long to catch another ferry back to the City.

On the Brooklyn Bridge
Back in Manhattan, we decided to walk to and across the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm not sure of all the bridges in New York City, but pedestrians can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked the entire span into Brooklyn and followed the signs to Brooklyn Heights. By now we were hungry, so we found a delightful restaurant on Henry Street and enjoyed a great meal. Once again, the food was outstanding. It must be the competition, but I figure if the food isn't very good, the restaurant won't last very long! There are 13 million people in the City.

By that time it was around 3:30 p.m. and we were pretty tired from the long walk from the Staten Island Ferry across the bridge to Brooklyn, so we decided to take the subway back into town. The subway took us to Times Square and we took the shuttle to Grand Central Terminal. From there it's a short walk to our lodgings.

This evening was quiet. We walked to Times Square again and enjoyed a snack from one of the street-side vendors. Our plan, tomorrow, is to revisit Coney Island -- so stay tuned. More to come.....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Self and Paul Hampton
This morning started out differently. Linda and I went into the Starbucks round the corner at about 9:30 or so. I saw a gentleman writing in long-hand with a pen. He had two additional pieces of paper filled with script at his side. As we waited in line to get some coffee, I made a joke/comment to him that "excuse me, but  you know that no one writes with a pen anymore. They have computers and word processors for that". He laughed and said he was the kinda guy who liked to write with a pen and even "get" notes written in long hand. As we continued our repartee, he mentioned the singer Diana Ross. I said, "so tell me, are your someone important?" We laughed. "Oh no, not really, just a guy," he said. I pressed him. I said, "you know,  if you're someone famous, I need to know so I can tell all my friends I met  a famous person". He laughed again and introduced himself as Paul Hampton. Well, I do admit I don't didn't know that name. I said something like, "well that's the neat thing about New York, you can be famous and nobody will even know." As we continued our discussion, Paul began telling us about his career in the entertainment business, music in particular.

It turns out that Mr. Hampton is an actor, singer, lyricist and writer of note. He is listed as one of one hundred major architects of American rock and roll in the British rock journal "Footsoldiers and Kings".  Some of his songs have been recorded by Sammy Davis Jr., Bette Midler, Eddy Arnold, Tom Jones, Merle Haggard, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Gene Pitney and Johnny Cash. As Linda, Paul and I continued our discussion, it was clear that he enjoyed our company and was glad to share his career with us. We spent about 45 minutes with him before saying our good byes and wishing each-other a good day. It was fun meeting this most interesting gentleman.

Once we left Starbucks, we made our way back downtown to Canal Street. We walked the streets, looking in many of the vendor shops and enjoying the rush of the crowd. We found a "Glatt Kosher Vegan Chinese Restaurant" and decided to have lunch there. The food was delicious - especially the bar-b-que "beef". By now it was close to 3 p.m. and we decided to make our way back uptown to our lodgings for a rest.

We had a 5:30 appointment to meet our friends Jerry and Ilene for dinner at Vagabondo's. Vagabondo's is a really great Italian restaurant on East 62nd Street, so we decided to take a short nap. We awoke at around 4:30 and decided to talk uptown to the restaurant. It was 15 blocks uptown. Along the way, we discovered a Home Depot and decided to see what it was all about. Finding a  Home Depot store in the middle of Manhattan was a surprise. We found it full of interior design pieces -- furniture, kitchen and bathroom. It was quite a find.

Ilene, Linda, Jerry and Self
We arrived at the restaurant at 5:30, just in time to join Jerry at the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine. Ilene joined us a few minutes later. After about 15 minutes of conversation, we adjourned to the dining room for dinner. I know I've said this again and again, but the food was wonderful. Jerry and Ilene have been a long term customers at the restaurant and were greeted warmly by two of the owners. The waiters and bar keeps all knew Jerry, so it made for an enjoyable visit.

After dinner, we spent some time outside. Jerry showed us Andy Rooney's house (of 60 Minutes fame). It turns out the house is right next door to the restaurant. We all knew this would be our last evening together for awhile. Linda and I will be leaving for home soon and we don't expect to see this wonderful couple before our departure. We said our farewells and promised to stay in touch. I've known Jerry and Ilene for 15 years or more, so staying in touch won't be difficult. I've always enjoyed their friendship.

We walked slowly back to our lodgings enjoying the warm evening and many of the activities on the street.. Tomorrow is another day and we've got some plans -- so

Stay tuned........

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our train to NYC from Boston
We woke to a beautiful day in Boston. The weather was cool and perfect for walking. After breakfast, we checked out of the 40Berkeley Inn and made our way to the South Station (Back Bay) train station on foot. It's about 4 blocks. Our train was to leave at 9:41 a.m. After a brief wait, we boarded and made ourselves comfortable. As usual there was wifi on the train, so I set up my computer and played around with email and Facebook. We arrived at Penn Station in New York at 2 p.m.

At Rockefeller Center, NYC
It wasn't much of a walk to our lodgings on 47th Street and Third Avenue. After checking in we set out to explore the neighborhood and found a nice little Chinese restaurant nearby. After the train trip, we were hungry, so we had an early dinner. We set out on foot and started across town on 47th Street toward Broadway.  As we explored the area, we came upon Rockefeller Center and checked out the grounds. It's a beautiful venue with lots to see and explore. As one might expect it was crowded (all of NYC is busy, it seems -- all the time). Radio City Music Hall is right around the corner, so we explored there a bit as well.

We continued toward Times Square and found ourselves in front of the AMC Movie Theater. We decided to see Sparkle. The film starts slow, but it turned out to be  good film. The music was great. As we were leaving the theater, we noticed another movie just starting -- SO, Y-E-S, we walked in and saw the film Hit and Run. It, too, is a pretty good film, with lots of great humor and action. We finally left the theater at 9 p.m. and started walking back to our hotel.

Time Square was ablaze with light and at one point, upon leaving the theater, I thought it was daylight! As always, the Square was crowded with people and vendors.  The weather continued to be warm and comfortable, so we enjoyed walking as we were making our way back to the hotel. We stopped at a falafel vendor and shared a great snack of salad, rice and  falafel. The food was really delicious -- actually the best we've had since our trip to Europe last summer.

So, it's time to "hit the sack". As always, readers and friends, stay tuned..........

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After a morning walk around the neighborhood, and a stop at Starbucks, we met Linda's friends near the train. She hadn't seem them for 2 years, so it was a warm and welcome reunion. We enjoyed an excellent lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant called the Kashmir. It was then off to the Cheesecake Factory for some dessert. Later, we stopped at Copley Square and enjoyed conversation until around 4:30 p.m. or so.

Concert at the Common and Filene's
In Boston
After they left, we found and enjoyed a concert at the Boston Common near Filene's Basement (If you've ever been to Boston, you know Filene's). The quartet was playing a variety of rock and hip-hop. Beer was $2  and wine was $3-- not a bad way to spend the afternoon hours.

Since then, it's been a quiet evening. We leave for New York tomorrow morning and will spend the last few days of our East Coast visit in the Big Apple.

Otherwise, this is another short entry.

But -- stay tuned....
Monday, August 20, 2012 -- Today was a lazy day -- wandered the city a bit and took in a movie. At one point I was on the phone to the V.A. when the phone simply "shut down". It would not re-boot!! Fortunately, a Sprint store isn't far from our lodgings so I made my way there for a diagnosis of the problem. I figured it was either the phone itself or the battery. It didn't take long to find that the phone had failed!! It's a good thing I've been paying the replacement insurance for the last couple of years. Within an hour, or so, I had a new replacement phone.

I've been looking at new phones and really like  Galaxy Nexus from Google. So far I've resisted the temptation. But, knowing my love for "toys", it won't take long before I have a new phone in my life!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This will be a short entry. We arose this a.m. and enjoyed a cuppa coffee with my niece Deb. After leaving her home, we drove the 25 miles to Portland Maine and turned in the car at the airport. A quick cab ride to the Amtrak station and we were on the 12:25 p.m. train for Boston. It's a pleasant ride, made even more pleasant by the fact they have wifi on board!! We got into the North Station at 3 p.m. and made our way to our lodgings across town. We've learned to use the subway quite well and were able to navigate the way easily.

After dinner, we settled in the lobby for a bit of TV and enjoyed the comings and goings of the other guests. A pleasant evening. I'm told by my friend Jim in Palm Desert it has been hot and humid at home. Brutally so, according to his report. Boston is a very pleasant 74-degrees or so. I found myself carrying a sweat-shirt with me as we made we walked around the city this evening. Not bad, wouldn't you say??


We'll see.

Stay tuned......

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sea Dog Brewery - Brunswick ME.
Today we intended returning to Portland Maine, turning in the car and then taking the train back to the Boston area. We are set to spend a couple more days in Boston so Linda can see her lifelong friends who live nearby. Since we were going back a day early, I thought that it would be prudent to call the lodgings to see if we could add a day to our reservations.  We found it was not possible.

I called a couple other places with no luck, so we thought we'd stay in Portland Maine overnight. Three calls later and we found most of the area lodgings were booked for the weekend (I had forgotten it was Saturday). Apparently, lots of things happen in the Portland and Boston area over the summer weekends, so lodgings are very tight. 

What to do!!??

Pat, Self and Deb
We called my niece Deb and found we could stay with them overnight and proceed on to Portland and Boston in the morning. We took Deb and her partner to dinner as a "thank you" and enjoyed a delightful dinner at the Sea Dog Brewery in Brunswick. The food, and company, was outstanding.

So, tomorrow, we'll start again! We'll be in Boston for a couple of days and then back to New York to see some more sights and people. Our trip is coming to a close.

Stay tuned...........

Friday, August 17, 2012

The "Pink Club House"
Today was our day to go to Stellafane on Breezy Hill in Springfield Vermont. We started with a delightful breakfast at the "Apron Strings" restaurant -- a little mom and pop eatery in the small downtown area of Springfield. After we were happily fed, it was off the Breezy Hill and the Convention.

with Al Nagler of TeleVue
We spent a good part of the day walking the convention site and talking to telescope makers from all over the United States and Canada. One highpoint was a chance run-in with Al Nagler of TeleVue. For those of you who don't know, Nagler is a respected maker of optics (telescopes and eyepieces). He's known worldwide, and it was fun getting to know him a bit.

Sun Spots thru the Porter
Turret Telescope
A visit to the old "pink clubhouse" and the Porter Turret Telescope was especially interesting. The turret telescope was focused on the Sun and projected a 15" image of the Sun onto a screen. A prominent grouping of Sun spots were readily visible.
(Russell W.) Porter Turret
telescope with Pink Clubhouse in
 As we wandered the convention site, we saw all sorts of telescopes in many different configurations. Some of them simple assemblies with cardboard tubes and plywood mountings. Others were sophisticated scientific instruments of every sort. It wasn't the complexity of the telescope that was important, but rather the fact that they were all at Stellafane, participating in a get-together of like-minded telescope-makers and amateur astronomers from all over. Everyone was friendly and readily shared stories about building and using their telescopes.

Springfield Telescope Mount
invented by Russell W. Porter
in 1920
The Convention was well attended. Lots of folks were camping in everything from 1- and 2-person tents to RV coaches with extended-side living rooms. The Springfield Telescope Makers also had a variety of tents for food and drink. So, now that we've made our appearance at Stellafane, it's time to move on again. We'll stay in Springfield this evening and head out in the morning. Our destination is back to Portland Maine, turn in the car and take the train back to Boston for another couple of days  Linda has some friends to visit -- so that'll be a nice change of pace. There's still much to do and see in Boston so we'll have plenty to do.

More to come. Stay tuned.............

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hartness House B&B
We made our way from Rutland Vermont to Springfield Vermont this morning, starting out at about around 9:30. After getting into Springfield, our first stop was the Hartness House. It's a B&B, but started out as a mansion built by James Hartness in 1888. Hartness' was interested in astronomy and built a large "turret telescope" in 1910. A turret telescope is unique because the observer is "inside" a small building while the rest of the telescope is outside. Not a bad idea for the cold of Vermont winters. Hartness was a contemporary of Russell W. Porter.

Hartness Turret Telescope
Once we reached the Hartness House we inquired about staying there (I figured it'd be sold out because of the Stellafane Convention). In fact, we were able to get our lodgings there and checked in for a 2 day stay. So far, it's been a great experience staying at the Hartness House. Lots of interesting sights around and many telescopic events going on in and around town. In the basement of Hartness House is an Amateur Telescope Makers' Museum featuring a variety of early telescopes and artifacts from the 20's and 30's. Russell W. Porter, founder of the Springfield Telescope Makers in 1923, is prominently mentioned and displayed in the museum. Obviously, the museum was most interesting to me, and I'm glad that Linda didn't find it too boring! We only stayed for a short time. One point, interesting to note, is the "tunnel" between the Hartness House, Museum and the turret telescope. Once again, a great way to guard oneself against the cold of the winter when using the telescope.

Inside the Turret Telescope
We finished wandering around the Inn, observatory and museum and made our way into downtown Springfield. It's a quaint and beautiful town of about 9400 people. The surrounding country-side is plush and beautiful -- lots of green. Clear views of the mountains and blue skies attest to the fact that air pollution hasn't found its way to this part of the world.

We did explore the city a bit, had a delightful lunch at one of the locally owned restaurants and found the local library where we were able to "get on line" to check emails and type into "blogs"!

Inside the Telescope Makers Museum
Hartness Hartness House
The Stellafane Convention starts tomorrow so we drove to the venue, on Breezy Hill, and put the location into my GPS. It'll be easy to go back to. We'll enjoy a quiet evening, the turret telescope will be open for looking at the stars, there's a movie-house in town and a little coffee shop -- so there's plenty to do to keep us happy.

Tomorrow should prove to be an interesting day and evening, so as always -- stay tuned for more.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our route from Brunswick Maine to Rutland Vermont. Read from right to left.

We left Deb's house in Brunswick at 10 a.m. and headed toward Rutland Vermont. As mentioned in yesterday's blog, we decided to stay off the main roads and find the "back way' to Rutland. We were successful! It took us about 6 hours to drive the 220 miles from one city to the other. On the way, we went through a dozen or more small towns and villages. As one might expect, the scenery was beautiful as we drove through  south and then west MaineNew Hampshire to Vermont. The Northeast is a beautiful part of the country so there's a lot to enjoy.

After dinner, we settled in to watch a bit of TV and relax after a long day in the car.We a day early on our scheduled visit to Stellafane, so we'll spend tomorrow exploring even more.

Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Self and sister-in-law Winnie
We enjoyed a breakfast and cuppa coffee with David and Karen before heading out for other destinations. I did take a few minutes to set up David's new wifi router and then Linda and I said our goodbyes. The last two days with David and Karen were wonderful. They live in an area of East Boothbay surrounded with beautiful scenery, friends, entertainment and activities. It was a couple of wonderful days -- but it was time to move on.  We took a leisurely drive to Brunswick and back to my niece's "neck of the woods". Her mother, Winnie, lives next store and it was our turn to take Winnie to lunch. After showing us around,
Winnie chose a wonderful restaurant on Orr's Island, about 20 minutes from her home. The island is a tiny fishing village with a population of about 1000 people. The restaurant itself is a beautiful building on a little peninsula at the end of a narrow two-lane road that runs through "town". The food was wonderful. Maine, of course, is a seafood state and fishing supports much of the local and state economy.

Later in the afternoon, we rejoined my niece, Deb, for dinner and conversation in her delightful "Maine cottage". Deb showed us her wood-shop and vegetable gardens. She's an accomplished horticulturist, wood worker, makes stain glass art-pieces, kayaks around Maine's water-ways and -- oh yes -- is a programmer fir the financial end of the computer industry.

After dinner, we all took a ride to Freeport Maine, the home of the L.L. Bean flagship store.. The store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 and now specializes in hunting, fishing, camping, shooting -- all manner of products for the home and outdoorsman. Just wandering the store gives you a sense that they sell everything!! I half expected to see L.L. Bean automobiles!!

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. We've decided to get to Rutland Vermont via "back roads" and stay off highways and freeways as much as possible. It's about a 225 mile drive, so we plan a slow leisurely transit to Rutland that may take two days. We're going to Vermont for a couple of reasons, but primarily to attend Stellafane, the oldest get-together of telescope makers in the country. Stellafane was founded by Russell W. Porter in the 1920's. Porter, among other things, was the architect of the 100" and 200" telescopes on Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar respectively. He's considered the "father of amateur telescope making" (a lot more to follow as we visit the site called Breezy Hill in Springfield Vermont).

Monday, August 13, 2012

After waking at 8 a.m. or so, we set out for my niece Deb's house in Brunswick Maine.  After a brief visit with my sister-in-law (ex actually), Deb took Linda and I to the harbor where she launched her Starcraft boat, a 15-foot run-about. We cruised along the waterway for about 30 minutes before we arrived a cute little lobster-shack on the river. I drove the boat "on the way" and Linda drove "on the way back". It was Linda's first time as "captain"! We enjoyed a delightful lunch and talk for about an hour before heading back. We promised to return tomorrow for some more talk and continue getting to know each other after a 20 year hiatus.
David and Karen's "backyard"!

After arriving back at David and Karen's, we than had an opportunity to go boating again! David has a beautiful 25-foot "Lyman". It sports a beautiful teak deck, mahogany wood work and HUGE Chrysler marine engine. The Lyman boat-works date back to the late 19th Century and started boat-building on the Cleveland waterfront. They're quite "collectable"!!

Karen, Linda and David
We made our way to one of the local "watering holes" for some drinks and talk about the old days of "Jewish America" we had all experienced with our parents and grand-parents. It was an enjoyable get-together of good friends. The discussion centered around the "foods" we enjoyed a kids!

The evening was capped off perfectly with a Maine lobster dinner made by the chef himself -- David!! (did I mention he is a really great cook??). What a fabulous end to a perfect day of boating and friendship.  So, more is to follow, so stay tuned!!

Ciao for now.....

Linda, self, David and Karen at Fair
August 12, 2012. After the festivities in town last night, we arose late -- 10 a.m. or so. The weather was thick fog and the temperatures cool. After the heat and humidity of Washington D.C., New York and Boston, the cooler weather feels good. It's a lot easier to sleep!! We spent the morning with David and Karen, enjoying coffee and talking about the evening before. The bagels, lox and cream cheese capped off a perfect morning.

Early in the afternoon, we all decided to go to the Topsham Fair. Topsham is about 20 miles away. It's a small town of about 12,000 people with a long and interesting history dating back to the 17th Century. The Fair itself was small but interesting -- a blacksmith was working in a shed, explaining his work and making, at the time, what appeared to be small nails or hooks. We watched for a few minutes and moved on. As is the case with most fairs, there were animals on display, crafts of all descriptions and foods. We stayed for about an hour enjoying the people and entertainment.

Topsham Faire Antique Tractor Display
 In the evening we all went to a favorite Chinese restaurant nearby. The food was excellent, but talk and company were even better! After returning to David and Karen's house at around 9 p.m., David and I sat in the "kitchen" talking until we called an evening at about 11 o:clock. I've put "kitchen" in quote because of its uniqueness. The kitchen was, it turns out, the original log cabin when David and his wife bought the property 30 years ago. The construction is rugged logs, beams and wood-planks of natural wood. Since then, the house has evolved into David and Karen's "castle" --  a truly beautiful and impressive home on one of the many inlets of Maine's waterways called the Damariscotta River. The Damariscotta is a 19-mile tidal river in Lincoln County that empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday -- August 11 -- We made our way to the South Station in Boston for a train to Portland Maine. About 45 minutes before the train left, we discovered we needed to be at the NORTH Station!! Of course, no one told us that when we bought the ticket in the South Station a couple of days ago. But, the ticket say it -- so we had no excuses. We found a cab and made the train just in time. We had the luxury of a first-class seat this time. It's about a 2 1/2 hour trip from Boston to Portland Maine. The countryside is beautiful and, as we got closer to Maine, more and more bodies of water became evident.

Dave and Karen Blumin  
Once in Portland, our next task was to find a way to the airport to pick up a car. The conductor on the Amtrak train gave us "free full fares" on the Portland bus system. We boarded the bus, and after a winding ride through the city, arrived at the airport and got our car.  Once we were ready to go, I plugged in our GPS, set the direction for Boothbay Harbour and set-out for a 1 1/2 hour drive to our friends who live there.

Dave and Karen have a magnificent home on one of the many water inlets in Maine. We settled in for a wonderful afternoon of talking and "noshing" -- and getting to know the area a bit. Later that evening, we went into town for an evening of "jazz/rock" and drinks at one of the local "joints". Boothbay Harbor is a small town, very beautiful, and everyone seems to know just about everyone!! It was a great evening. We got back to the house at around 12:30 a.m., talked a bit more and hit the sack. Needless to say, we were ready for some "sack time".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Harvard School of
Arts and Sciences
Linda and I did follow through on our trip to Harvard Square. We went onto the Harvard campus and enjoyed a nice tour and discussion of the history of the University and surrounding area by a student tour-guide. We also enjoyed a great lunch at "Grendel's Den". I had gone there in the 80's and it was still delightful. Harvard Square has changed quite a bit since my last visit -- except for the character and charm of the neighborhood. College towns are always enjoyable.

During our brief stay on the Harvard Square, we did find "Dewey, Cheetam and Howe". If you don't know who these "people" are, a search of the Internet will fill you in on their significance.

OK, so here's a quiz.  It's Friday, what happens on Friday??  Are you thinking about it??  Well, you're right -- new movies come out!!  We made the 2 p.m. showing of Bourne Legacy. Wow, what a great movie. Don't let yourself miss it.. We loved it.

We then worked our way back the Back Bay and the Copley Square area for a walk-about and dinner at Legal Seafood. The fish was "OK", but for some reason some chef thought it'd be better with batter and then deep fried. "Sorry Charlie" -- it was mediocre at best. Oh well. the expectation is always better than the reality -- right??

By the time we finished dinner, the weather had turned to thunder showers and heavy rain. We walked through the underground tunnels to the train station and expected to wait out the rain before walking back to the Inn. OK, and this is weird -- "some one" had left an umbrella on the bench along side of us. We asked all of those around us if the umbrella belonged to them. The answers were all "no". So, we grabbed the umbrella and made the 5 block walk to our lodgings without getting too wet.

So again this even, we're in early. Tomorrow we have a 10:30 a.m. train for Portland Maine. We'll be visiting  family and friends while there.

More to come..

Thursday, August 09, 2012

In front of State House, Boston
Today we walked the ENTIRE length of the Freedom Trail. It may only be 2.5 miles, but it feels like quite a bit longer.  We started out walking tour at 10 a.m. and finished a 5:15 p.m. We walked from the "Common" to Bunker Hill - on the other side of town.We picked up the trail in Boston Common -- the beginning of the trail. We bought a descriptive map of the trail and were able to get a considerable amount of information on each of the 15 major attractions along the way.

The first stop is the Sate House, The State House was built in 1798 and displays a roof that is made with copper (applied by Paul Revere) and now has a 23-karat gold overlay.  We progressed along the route and found the site of the first public school built in 1635. This is an "old city" and one can spot sites, buildings and statuary attesting to its history. Along the route, Linda and I discovered the offices of the Jewish Advocate, a weekly newspaper in publication for over 100 years covering Jewish news from home and around the world. We had a unique opportunity to tour their editorial offices and enjoy a few minutes with one of their writer/editors.

We stopped at the Quincy Market for lunch but didn't find anything to our liking so we were off again. Just as we were entering the north-side of the "trail", the Italian section, we saw a delightful water fountain and took a couple of minutes to take off our shoes and cool ourselves in the  refreshing water.

USS Constitution
Close to the end of the trail, we entered the Charlestown Navy Shipyard, the home of the USS Constitution.   The shipyard has been operating for 174 years, building, repairing and refitting ships for the U.S. Navy. The Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world, originally commissioned in 1797. During the war of 1812, the Constitution defeated four British frigates -- canon balls were "bouncing" off her sides she earned the name "Old Ironsides". After we viewed a 10 minute film about the shipyard, we boarded the Constitution and toured three of her decks.

Our last stop was "Breeds Hill" (also known as Bunker Hill). We rested there for awhile then walked back across the river to the "orange line" of the "T". We had walked enough for the day, and decided to take the Metro back to the Inn. It has been a long and enjoyable day, and we're both ready to take the rest of the evening in our lodgings -- watch the Olympics on TV and get ready for our adventure tomorrow. We intend visiting Cambridge, see Harvard University and hunt down "Dewey Cheatem and Howe"! You know who they are, don't you????

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Faneuil Hall
We had an 8:30 a.m. train from Penn Station in New York to the Amtrak Back Bay train station in Boston. The trip was about 3 hours and went smoothly. All of the trains we been on, so far, have had wifi internet connection. It's made the transit from one city the other very easy and time passes quickly.

Once we departed from the train station, we easily found our lodgings. It's about a 10 minute walk and turns out to be an excellent "hostel". Once we were settled, we decided to go back to the train station and take the "T" (the Boston metro system to the Haymarket area -- also the home of Faneuil Hall. The original hall was built in 1740 and has existed there, in one form or another, ever since. Surrounding Faneuil Hall is the Quincy Market, a long narrow building chucked full of food vendors of every description. We had a great lunch there, and especially enjoyed the "clam chowda"!! One neat and interesting attraction was a group of "break dancers" outside the hall. We enjoyed the show.

After about an hour of exploring, we walked into the downtown area and found the "South Meeting Hall" in Washington Street. South hall is the site of 1773 mass protest meetings that led to the Boston Tea Party, Old South Meeting House has served as a gathering place for discussion and celebration and a haven for free speech. It's a beautiful building right in the middle of downtown and is beautifully preserved.We continued exploring the downtown. Of course, you would expect lots of shopping and eateries. But some of the streets were completely shut off for pedestrians. Table and chairs were in place and numerous food carts were on the street serving coffee, ice cream and other treats for the warm summer day. We had a delightful opportunity to sit along the promenade and enjoy the people and activity.

South Hall
We asked around a bit, and after looking at a map of the city, we found the beginning of the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a walking tour in downtown Boston . It begins with the establishment of Boston in 1630. The story of Boston is told while experiencing architecture spanning more than 3 centuries. The story begins with the Puritan settlement, continues through the American Revolution and the growth of commercial Boston, to present day. We'll walk the entire Freedom Trail tomorrow.  It's a 2.5 mile path in and out of the city marked with a "red line" or "red brick" in the sidewalk, so one cannot get lost.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Columbia University
Today we had planned to go "uptown" and visit the Columbia Campus. Linda had been there in the 60's, so it was a trip into the "old times". Things had changed for her and it was barely recognizable -- but she did see one or two landmarks from the "good old days". We wandered the campus for about an hour and then headed downtown -- on foot!! Columbia is at 116th Street on the west side. I hadn't been in that part of the city before, so it was fun to see something new. It's a beautiful area -- lots of nice buildings and shopping. But, of course, not as crowded as Times Square or the rest of downtown.

At one point, we hopped a subway train and took it down into Times Square again. We wanted to try a piece of the "famous" Lindy's cheesecake. We found our way there and enjoyed the air conditioning of the dining room. The cheesecake was served -- and it was "ok". Nothing special, we thought, but then again -- what do we know from good cheesecake or GREAT cheesecake!! It was fun anyway.

We found the "wax museum" with a really good figure-likeness of Morgan Freeman in the front of the museum. I took a photo with him. You must admit, the figure looks just like the real guy -- doesn't he??

Self and Morgan Freeman
After all the walking we had done the last two days, we decided to hunt down a movie  both of us could see for the first time. We went to an AMC theater on 42nd Street and saw "Step Up Revolution"!! Here again, don't waste your time or money on this film. The dancing was good, the story was lame.

We walked down 6th Avenue toward the Inn and stopped in at the Empire State Building. We thought we'd visit the "observatory". There was a 2 1/2 hour wait in line, so we decided to blow off that until we return later in the month.

Tomorrow we have an 8:20 a.m. train for Boston, so we'll be up early and out of here by 6:30. The plan is take a bus or cab to Penn Station so we can find our track and settle in until departure time.

Time for some well deserved rest!!


Monday, August 06, 2012

Canal Street
Today has been quite a day. We covered a lot of territory on foot, so we're a bit tired -- but not worse for the wear. We started out at around 10 a.m. deciding to keep to our schedule. We walked a few blocks to the downtown "6" train and took it to Canal Street. Canal Street is a shoppers paradise, especially if one is interested in "bargaining". I bought a "T" shirt, for example, that started out at $20. I offered $5!! The vendor and I haggled for a few minutes before we agreed on a $7 price! Not bad for either of us. The vendors abound -- hundreds of them up and down the street, selling everything from "Rolex" watches to 25-cent key-chains. We walked the entire length of the street on both sides, enjoying the people and activity. At one point we found a neat little bagel shop and stopped for an "everything bagel". There is nothing like a New York bagel!

We then headed into Little Italy and Chinatown. Restaurants and shops everywhere. People everywhere! It was a delightful late morning and early afternoon, the weather was perfect -- not too hot, and we walked slowly taking in all the activity. We happened onto the "Tenement Museum" and looked around for awhile. It is easy to imagine our great-grand-parents living there. If you've seen the movie "Hester Street", you imagine the neighborhoods and what it was like.

Our exploration of the area took us to Houston Street. Our first stop was "Schimmels Knish Bakery". We ordered a "kasha knish", and with plenty of mustard. We thoroughly enjoyed our snack. It was great. Thanks to our buddy Howard, we found the place -- otherwise it would have been missed. Still on Houston, and just down the street a block or two, is Katz's Deli. Katz's is a landmark (founded in 1888) and crazy with activity. We found our way into the restaurant and "took a number"!! Once we were able to figure out how to get our food ordered, we were seated, given a huge plate of pickles to "nosh" on and were served. Well, it was $37 later that we left the restaurant, full with good food and happy as larks!! We both agreed it doesn't get better than this...

Washington Square
We crossed town again, going West toward the Hudson River, and wandered into Greenwich Village. Our first destination was New York University and then onto Washington Square. It was a warm day and the fountain at the "square" was refreshing. Along the benches many people were sitting and enjoying the sun, a trio of musicians were playing music. The predominant instrument -- a trumpet -- lent itself to the enjoyable character of the afternoon. Linda and I waded in the fountain enjoying the coolness of the water. A breeze would sometimes spray us with the water -- a great way to cool off in a fairly hot day in the City.

About an hour later or so, and we off again -- this time to find Greenwich Street. It was on Greenwich Street that my father-in-law had his business in the 1950's and 60's. I remember the address and found that, now, the building had been replaced with upscale apartments. It was an interesting lesson in what I call the "gentrification" of a neighborhood.

NYC High Line
Our last point of interest was the "high line" which starts on 12th Street  (by the Hudson River) and runs up into the 30's. The High Line is an old elevated train track that, at one time, worked as a freight line.  Once in disuse, the line had been threatened with demolition until the 1990's when a couple of local's lobbied for, and succeeded, in saving it as a green belt along the otherwise industrial and residential city. We walked the entire length of the new park, enjoyed the views of the Hudson River and had a nice cup of coffee at one of the few vendors along the way.

We left the High Line at 30th Ave. and started walking across town to our lodgings on 3rd Street. It's a long walk, and about 3 blocks into it, we hopped a bus and sat in the cool air conditioning the rest of the way. After a break and wonderful dinner at a local Thai restaurant, we decided to call it day.

So, tomorrow it'll be "uptown". We'll visit Columbia University  (Linda used to work there) and wander down through the 80's (the museums) and into Central Park. So, and I know I say this every time I end an entry --  stay tuned.

More later.....