Water Week, Historic Waters

We had to get to the Atlantic Ocean! Hannah at Sullivan Island, SC

In June, one of my daughters and I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. On a sunset cruise with Adventure Harbor Tours, we not only enjoyed the relaxing ride and beautiful views, but got a history lesson to boot! Here are some highlights.

  • Fort Sumter: historic fort, start of the Civil War, Confederate forces fired shots upon Federal troops on April 12, 1861

Since the American Revolution, Americans have built systems of forts at harbors along the coast to strengthen maritime defenses. Following the War of 1812, several major weaknesses in the American coastal defense system were identified. To fill these voids, Congress and the US Army Corps of Engineers planned the construction of forty-two forts, primarily located along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maine to Louisiana. These forts are collectively known as the Third System of Seacoast Defense.

Charleston Harbor made the list of sites vulnerable to attack, prompting the construction of Fort Sumter. Construction on the man-made island began in 1829. Thirty-one years later, sectional tensions exploded at Fort Sumter into armed conflict.

  • USS Yorktown: tenth aircraft carrier to serve in United States Navy, built in 16 1/2 months

 YORKTOWN was commissioned on April 15, 1943. World War II’s famous “Fighting Lady” would participate significantly in the Pacific offensive that began in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. YORKTOWN received the Presidential Unit Citation and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II.

In the 1950s, YORKTOWN was modernized to operate jet aircraft as an attack carrier. In 1957, she was re-designated an anti-submarine aircraft carrier, and would later earn 5 battle stars for service off Vietnam (1965-68). The ship also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule (December 1968). YORKTOWN was decommissioned in 1970 and placed in reserve.

In 1975, this historic ship was towed from Bayonne, NJ to Charleston to become the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

  • Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge: opened on July 16, 2005, the longest cable-stayed bridge of its time in North America, the tallest structure in South Carolina

The new bridge had to be high enough to accommodate ship traffic to a world-class port, strong enough to withstand seismic events like Charleston’s 1886 earthquake (magnitude 7.3), sturdy enough to weather hurricanes like Hugo and aesthetically pleasing enough to satisfy the discerning public eye. The new structure also had to meet long-term traffic needs. To that end, it has eight vehicular lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle accommodations.

The awe-inspiring, cable-stayed main span boasts a deck almost 200 feet above the water of Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel and two diamond towers almost 600 feet high.

Have you been to Charleston, SC? Did you tour some of these sights? 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sources: National Park Service,  South Carolina Picture Project, Patriot’s Point

Advertisements

Water Week, Mystic Boat Adventures

It was two to a boat on Mystic Boat Adventures’ motor-boats-fitted-with-foam-pontoons. We rode through Mystic Seaport and out to the open water where, not only could we we could see Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island waters, we “let it rip.” So fun!

We passed under the Mystic Drawbridge, an 85-foot bridge that lifts with 460-tons of concrete counterweights! Click here if you want to see the drawbridge in action.

The Mystic River Bascule Bridge (often called the Mystic Drawbridge) was built in 1922. The bridge opens, drawbridge-style, to let boats up and down the Mystic River. When it’s closed, locals and tourists alike travel over it to visit many destinations along Main St. and beyond. The bridge is raised every hour at 40 minutes after the hour between 8:40 am and 6:40 pm.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a Bascule Bridge is one that can be raised or lowered using counterweights (bascule is the French word for seesaw). What makes the Mystic bridge even more interesting is the fact that the mechanism that’s used to raise and lower the bridge is not enclosed, so you can see all the moving parts. This particular style of Bascule Bridge was patented by New York City engineerThomas E. Brown in 1918. No doubt an engineering marvel of its time, it’s still fascinating to watch now.

We also got a a close-up view of the Mayflower II, a replica of the 17th-century ship Mayflower. It’s being restored for the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620. Click here if you want to learn more about the restoration.

Sources: Mystic KnotworkScenic USA, Mystic Seaport Museum

Water Week, Argia Mystic Cruises

Sailing Schooner Argia

Welcome to Water Week!

Despite the fact that I’m over–really over–the ridiculous amount of rain we had this summer and continue to have this fall, I love water. Being on the water in any kind of boat. When my family visited Mystic, CT in July, we had perfect weather for a sunset sail on a beautiful schooner, the Argia.

ARGIA is built of Honduran Mahogany on White Oak frames. Her masts are of Douglas Fir and her bowsprit of Cyprus. Her bottom is Chesapeake Bay dead-rise planking of Long-leaf Yellow Pine. ARGIA’s rig is that of a 19th Century East Coast trading, or packet, schooner and is most properly described as that of a Two-Masted Gaff Topsail Schooner.

Crosby, Still and Nash’s song, Southern Cross came to mind. It was always one of my favorite songs, but now that I’m in the query trenches, it’s even more meaningful.

Think about how many times I have fallen. Spirits are using me, larger voices calling.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.
I have been around the world, looking for that woman-girl who knows love can endure.
And you know it will, and you know it will.  Chorus for Southern Cross

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bookstore for Book Lovers in Annapolis, MD

Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse. Photo credit Yelp.

On a recent trip to Annapolis, MD, my sister introduced my youngest daughter and I to Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse. The “Welcome” on its website says, in part,

We believe in the power of stories to inform our humanity and in the value of a third place, where unrelated people relate in healthy public life. Books are gateways to all the great ideas.

You know what I say to that? Amen!

The first thing my sister showed us was…

…the space under the spiral staircase, where a sign says “Harry’s Room” and Hedwig perches in a birdcage.

The second thing she pointed out was…

…the coffeeshop. Photo credit Yelp.

The part of the store she knew I’d love the most was…

The children’s section. Photo credit Yelp.
Quirky accessories fill the store.

Comfy chairs, antique furniture and quirky accessories invite customers to stay in this enchanting shop. Too bad we had to go, but guess what I discovered on the way out?

A mouse house door.
A room inside the countertop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dollhouse sized library! Omg–too cute!

Next time I’m in downtown Annapolis, I have to check out these two bookstores as well:

The Annapolis Bookstore 

Its website says it carries “a vast collection of used, new, and antiquarian books, as well as amazing cards, games and puzzles, and interesting ephemera. ” I love this quote on the “Children’s Page.”

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo

Back Creek Books & Antiques

Reviews say this unusual, friendly, refined, tidy, gem of a shop is the place to find rare and higher end books, signed books, classics, prints, postcards, and an old world charm made up of the scent of aged paper and the owner’s passion.

Click here to read an Interesting article about all three bookstores. Yay for independent booksellers!

Hon, do you have a favorite independent bookstore? 

Bubbly and Black Flies, a Mystery

Tuscany, Italy.
Tuscany, Italy.

It all started in Tuscany.

In August 2016 while traveling in Italy, my daughter Morgan and I took a day trip to Tuscany. We toured two vineyards and an olive oil farm, enjoying a lovely meal prepared by the owners of the smaller vineyard. Once we returned to the U.S., we excitedly awaited our shipments of wine.

Fast forward to Spring 2017. In Brooklyn, Morgan’s roommate was enjoying a quiet day when, out of nowhere,  POP! SPRAY! SPLASH! a bottle of wine exploded! It was wine shipped from Tuscany. The cork popped out and the wine sprayed all over the kitchen. How very strange!

Fast forward again, to Summer 2017.  In New Jersey, our house was plagued by black flies. Not small house flies but big, bluebottle flies. Yuck! We closed doors and windows, cleaned fastidiously, and “disposed” of as many as we could. But they kept on coming. Hubby and I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from.

One daughter who doesn’t like bugs of any kind, wore a hat in the house and hid in her room.

Another daughter who likes some bugs, practically dove into her cellphone.

Our dog Lucy caught and ate some. They wiggled in her mouth! Double yuck!!

Still, Hubby and I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. It was a mystery!

Then, out of nowhere, they were gone.

A few months later, in preparation for Thanksgiving, Morgan was choosing wine and happened upon an empty bottle. “Who drank a bottle of wine and put it back empty?” she asked.

“Who indeed?” I wondered.

Hubby hadn’t and neither had any of my daughters. It was a mystery!

Then Hubby had an epiphany. “Remember those black flies? I bet the cork popped out of that bottle the same way it did in Morgan’s apartment. The flies must have been attracted to the wine.”

We checked the label and, sure enough, it was a bottle from the same winery as the exploding bottle in Brooklyn. Mystery solved, except for one more mystery…

Do you think the flies got tipsy from the wine?

Why would corks pop out of a bottle? Here are some possible reasons:

A cork would start to pop out of the bottle only if the wine or pressure inside the bottle started to expand, and that only happens at temperature extremes of hot or cold.

 

[Corks popping out of bottles is] more than likely caused by either: (1) not allowing the fermentation to complete all the way before bottling, or (2) adding sugar after the fermentation to sweeten the wine, but doing so without adding a wine stabilizer.

Barrels in Tuscany.
Me and Morgan in Italy, August 2016. 

Sources: Wine SpectatorECKraus, Ehrlich

“Santa is a Psychedelic Mushroom,” Lapland Folklore

A reindeer calf in Sweden’s Arctic Lapland region. Photo c/o Radio Canada International.
Ever wonder where Santa came from? Why his reindeer fly? Why he comes down the chimney? And where gift-giving originated?
Then check out this extremely cool six and half minute animated video “Santa is a Psychedelic Mushroom, ” written by Matthew Salton and animated by a group of artists, including my daughter Morgan! It was posted on Vimeo and featured online at nytimes.com.
To find out more about Lapland, click here.
Me and Morgan standing in front of a mural she painted.

Heroes Proved and Patriot Dream

My son at White Sands National Monument, NM. Photo taken by his sister Morgan. Isn’t this photo is outstanding?!
Selfie: me and my son.
Me, my son, and his buddy.

Lucky me! My flexible schedule allowed me to plan a last minute trip to visit my son before he deployed. The last two stanzas of America the Beautiful bring tears to my eyes.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

For more info: Soledad Canyon, White Sands National Monument