Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CT River Canoe Trip Part 8

We woke up to frost on the grass, and fog in the air. We went back to sleep.

When we woke up again, the fog had burned off a bit, and the sun came out. I rearranged the clothes on the line, to get them to dry in the sun for the morning. Todd made breakfast.

We listened to the radio, read, hung out and watched the clothes dry. After a few hours we were able to pack everything up into the canoe, and get back on the water again.

This day closely mirrored my idyllic vision of canoeing with the dogs. Nemo dozed at my feet, and Griffen napped at Todd’s. The sun was out. The river at this point is one oxbow after another, so we spent the day zigzagging down the river. Birds chirped, water lapped the canoe, Todd and I talked and joked. Beautiful. Perfect.

We had figured out later that with all the oxbows in the river we’d canoed 20 miles that way. But if we drove that distance on the nearby highway, it was actually about 5 highway miles.

Todd and I had decided that we were nervous about the snow forecast, as we didn’t bring any winter gear. We would need to end the trip that day. Never mind the fact that our clothing was still damp. Todd had seen in the guidebook a place to pull out that was about 5 miles away from Wells River, by the road, not by the river.

We canoed on. We saw a pair of kayakers on the river. We saw a river guide trying to get his boat up the bank, on to the trailer. We watched from the river as the guide and 2 other people were working to pull this boat out.

We trudged on to Newbury, where we would be pulling out. We beached the canoe on the boat launch, leashed the dogs and walked up the hill to access the situation.

Looking at the map, Todd said "OK, we're 5 miles away, and one of us is going to have to get the car on foot."

"OK, I'll go," I said.

To be continued.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thug in Training

When I used to have my dive shop, a neighborhood kid used to come in all the time to hang out. He must have been 10 or 11 years old, he had an earring, and had this thug-in-training air about him.

He was a good kid though. He used to help me fill tanks, and just hang out and crack me up. He came in one day, and we had this conversation:

Thug: Hey Beej? Is there beer in root beer?
Beej: You mean, is there alcohol in it?
Thug: Yeah.
Beej: No, there isn't.
Thug: If there's no beer in it, then why is it called root beer.
Beej: I don't know. But then, why is it called shampoo when there's no poo in it.
Thug: Ugh! You're so gross!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Last First Time

It was 10 years ago today that I had my last first kiss. I remember every delicious detail of it. You were lying on the couch in the downstairs TV room at your parents' house. I was sitting on the edge of the couch. Looking into your eyes. Contemplating the idea of you. It didn't occur to me then that would be the last time I'd ever kiss a man for the first time.

I went to see you in Vermont for the weekend. We were in that weird pre-boyfriend/girlfriend phase where you could sense the chemistry between us, but I wouldn't give into being in a relationship. It was a weekend for a lot of firsts for us. The first time we kissed, the first time you tried to teach me how to water ski. The first time your warm hand reached across my bare belly as we were swimming at Buttermilk Falls, and you were trying to pull me behind the waterfall. The first time I stared at you in awe, impressed by your natural ability to show me a good time, your natural ability to set the scene for me.

I spent the weekend staring at you, but trying not to get caught staring at you. You drove the truck to the lake, and I very unsuccessfully pretended to look out the window on the other side of you. You caught me, but let me feign staring out the window.

Todd, the last 10 years have been the best I've ever had. Thank you for what you add to my life. Thank you for the life we've created together, without you none of it would be possible. Thank you for making me laugh every single day.

Thank you for being the last man I will ever kiss.


Monday, June 18, 2007

CT River Canoe Trip Part 7

Griffen and Nemo at our campsite on Howards Island, CT River.

"Todd, where are the dogs?" I asked.

“I don’t know. But we’re on an island. Where are they going to go?”

“Good point.” I dropped the subject and got back into the discussion about dinner. A few minutes later I decided I’d better find my dogs.

I called out to them, and they came back. While they were exploring the island they found the single smelliest spot on earth. Being dogs, they decided to roll into it, and cake the stink into their ears. They were both covered in a black, tar-like substance, the odor of which still haunts my dreams.

I brought them to the edge of the river and threw them in. Once to wash them and a few more times after that for revenge. We decided that the boys would not be sleeping in the tent with us that night.

We had dinner, watched the sunset, laughed about the day’s events and listened to the radio. The weather forecast predicted snow in the higher elevations for the next few days. Snow in September, you gotta love Vermont. We discussed the idea of ending the trip on the next day, should the weather turn, and how to get back to the Cherokee, upstream.

We tied the dogs to a tree, and then went to our tent. We snuggled down, as it was getting cold without the sun. That’s when we heard it.




Thus is the cry of a pampered beagle who demands a warmer place to sleep. A warmer place such as, say, the tent where the people are sleeping.

We discussed the pros and cons of allowing them to sleep with us. We decided that a stinky sleep was better than no sleep. I rearranged our sleeping bags, and Todd left the tent to get the dogs. I unzipped the flaps, preparing to shiver while I slept, in the interests of breathing clean air.

Todd brought the stink mutts in, and we all went to sleep like one smelly happy family.
To be continued.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Derailed. Kind of.

We had a few goals for the weekend, and I don’t think we accomplished a single one of them. But that’s OK, we still had fun anyway.

Friday night we went for a sail. I don’t think we set out until 7 or 8 PM, and we came back around 11PM. We love night sailing on Narragansett Bay, because we pretty much own the bay at that hour of night. It’s very peaceful, and a great way to end a work week Or a work day for that matter.

I brought the boat up to the mooring while Todd picked up the mooring lines that we tie to the boat. Usually it’s the other way around, Todd drives and I pick up the lines. But we’ve been trying to cross-train me on the boat lately. I don’t mind getting to try something different, but I am often afraid of making a mistake. Our boat weighs something like 32,000 pounds, it doesn’t turn on a dime, and could do some serious damage if it got away from me at the helm. Luckily we got tied onto the mooring without any trouble, and my knuckles didn’t get too white while I held onto the wheel.

Saturday morning I ran the 5K race. I finished in 31:49, and stopped twice to walk. Overall the course was flat, but the last half of it was on the bike path, and in the hot sun. At that point I had walked. The whole race I watched an elderly man way ahead of me who did not stop once. So, here I am at 33 stopping to walk, and there was that man at a million years old who hauled ass all the way to the finish line. I think I need to get into better shape.

After the race we intended to get some work done on the boat, and we didn’t do any of it for one reason or another. The parts we needed were in a store that had closed for the day before we got there. You know, things like that. Saturday night we took our friends Sean and Heidi out for a sail. We sailed for about 5 hours, and covered about 40 miles. It occurs to me that I can jog faster than my boat can sail. So, forget about the self-esteem hit that happened at the race where I was outrun by an elderly man.

Sunday morning we woke up with the best of intentions to get work done. We got our parts, we went out to the boat. Our friend Garrett the yacht rigger came over to have a beer and distract us. The sun was hot, and we decided our time was better spent swimming. We put on our suits, piled the dogs into the dinghy and cruised by Tonya and David’s boat, and convinced them to go swimming too. Then it started to rain, so we went back aboard to wait out the rain.

The rain stopped, we decided to get some work done, when we realized we’d forgotten the cordless drill. We went ashore to go home and get it when we saw our friend Chocolate Dave launching his boat at the boat ramp. We stopped to help him get his boat to his mooring, then set out to work again when we realized that all the adhesive we’d brought to finish this project had hardened. We decided that getting this project done wasn’t meant to be, and our time would be better spent eating Chinese food. Then we learned that Dave’s boat had a leak, and we helped him get it out of the water.

OK, so to sum up. Outrun by an old guy, went sailing, did no boat work, still live in my house and not on my boat, and now I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Scuba and Chocolate: Together at Last

When two of my favorite things, scuba and chocolate, collide; life is good. Last night I met up with Todd and our friend Dave to go for a dive. Dave is a chocolatier, and an amazing one at that. If you evern find yourself in Rhode Island, Dave's shop is on Main Street in East Greenwich. You cannot leave the state without stopping in, it's SO worth it.

Diving with Dave is always great, not only for the company underwater, but for the chocolate afterward. Dave never shows up to a site empty handed, and he's been known to bring chocolate covered cherries for Todd, and either turtles or chocolate covered strawberries for me.

Todd and Dave met at the site earlier than when I could get off of work. They were already in the water when I arrived, so I hung out and waited for them. Then they got out, I geared up and they swapped to fresh tanks and we all went in again.

Dave and I are both not so great at navigating underwater. Though I think I am worse at it than Dave is, because I am simply unable to swim in a straight line. I watch my compass like a hawk, and still end up pulling to the left or the right. Todd had stayed behind because he had a cramp in his leg, so I went with Dave. My excitement got the better of me, because apparently I was swimming very fast. (Must be all that jogging strengthening my legs!) I was leading, and took us on a heading that was dead south, while Dave was trying to catch me and turn us west. Then I turned us dead west (where we had originally wanted to go, but I kept pulling us to the south due to my inability to swim a straight line.) Todd was watching our dive flag wander all over the surface, and laughed at our goofy navigating.

Then I got cold. I think the water temp was somewhere in the 60's. By then we were headed north, which was kind of on our way back to the start. Even though my navigation was all over the place, and I got cold, it still was a fun dive. We saw a ray, loads of little bitty fish, I saw a lobster, and 2 blue crabs.

Then we got out, and ate more chocolate. We went down to about 35 feet, and stayed in the water for maybe 30-40 minutes. I am hoping that we can make this a weekly Thursday night dive date.

This weekend we'll hopefully be moving aboard the boat for the summer. I will also run a 5K on Saturday morning that will benefit the Rhode Island Food Bank. Hopefully we'll get out for a sail some time over the weekend as well.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Thirteen Things I would Like to do This Summer

1. Scuba dive at least once per week. Todd and I like to go on night dives after work, so hopefully this one won’t be too much of a stretch.

2. We have put in for our vacation days, and if all goes well we will be on the water for roughly 16 days. We haven’t yet decided if we will sail up the coast to Maine, or if we will putter around Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and Long Island sound.

3. Every day when I go out for lunch I pass a surf shop. One of these days I will stop in and inquire about surfing lessons. You know, because I need 1 more hobby.

4. Sail to Block Island for a weekend. We didn’t go to Block at all last summer, and we both love to sail there.

5. Live aboard our boat to the point where we only come back to the house to do our laundry. If all goes well we will move aboard this weekend, and then I might just have the cable TV shut off for the summer, and save us some money as well.

6. Remember to use sun screen every time I will be outside. I do use a body lotion that has sun protection in it, but I would like to be better at remembering to put on the sunblock too.

7. Ride around with the top down on the Jeep. Right now the temps are in the 50’s and 60’s, so it’s too cold for me. But I love nothing more than riding around with the top down, and sometimes with the doors off too.

8. Keep up with my jogging. It’s my goal to get my pedometer up to 2000 miles buy the end of the year. Right now I am at 1566, so I have a few more miles to go.

9. Go on a weekend canoeing and camping trip. Similar to the one on the CT River that I’ve been writing installments on. But shorter than that.

10. Spend a day with Todd while he’s flying his kites, and I am sitting on a blanket reading or playing my guitar. I love those days.

11. Take the dogs hiking somewhere that they will get so muddy I will have to hose them off when we get back. (Or just throw them into a body of water, that’ll do too.)

12. Take our friends on night sails during the week. Night sailing is great because most other sailors are at home in the beds. Not us. We own the bay when we are out there at night.

13. Learn how to sail our boat by myself.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

The CT River Canoeing Trip, Part 6

“Dammit! The maps just slipped right out of my hands.”

“That’s OK, we’ll find a spot, let’s just keep going,” I said, "Besides, we still have the large maps in the map case. We can look at those when we get to a campsite."

We paddled on for a little while and I noticed a little blue sign with a picture of a tent and a pine tree on it. I remember seeing a picture of that in the guidebook.

Todd saw it too, “Look, there’s one of those signs for the campsite. Let’s stop there.”

We beached the canoe, and explored the site. The sign said that we were on Howard’s Island. I don’t know who Howard is, but I like that he has his own island, and he’s cool enough to let us stay there.

We hauled our wet gear over to the fire ring. Luckily Todd had the foresight to pack us each an outfit in a dry bag. So at least we had something dry to wear. Todd MacGuyvered up a clothesline for us, and I spread out our remaining wet clothes, while Todd started the fire. This is me, looking H-O-T in my super fab sweatpants and bandana by Todd's impressive clothesline. What am I doing? Am I actually watching the clothes dry?

Magically our sleeping bags didn’t get wet. We were so happy to have dry bedding to sleep in. We put up the tent and laid out our bags.

We contemplated dinner, when I asked Todd “Where are the dogs?”

To be continued.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

"I've Been Looking So Long at These Pictures of You, That I Almost Believe That They're Real..."*

All through my childhood Mom and Dad always had the camera around. Every little milestone was documented, every sports award night, every band concert, every graduation, and every vacation. Not only were the little milestones documented, but just the little things like when our cousins would come over, the camera would come out and Mom or Dad would snap a few shots.

When I was a little kid I stood around when photos were being taken quite a bit. I used to think that it would be cool if the film captured 1-2 seconds of sound when the picture was being taken, and then when you looked at the picture later on you could hear that 1-2 second sound byte. So if we were taking pictures at a birthday party, you might hear a second or two of the people at the party singing "Happy Birthday" or, inevitably, the sound byte would be of everyone in the picture saying "Cheeeeeeeese."

Then I would wonder what sound would go with the picture when ever a picture was taken. Then I'd try to remember that sound when I looked at the pictures when they came back from being developed.

I still catch myself wondering what the sound byte would be when a picture is being taken. I still catch myself trying to remember the sounds from that moment when I look at a picture later on.

*The Cure, "Pictures of You"

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

CT Canoe Trip Part 5

Just to recap the trip so far. We camped in Ellington, CT, and in Lake Luzerne, NY. Here's a picture of me and Todd's Mom on a 4 wheeler at Lake Luzerne:

We bought a canoe, and dropped it into the CT River at Wells River, Vermont:

This is Todd and the Gravy Boat at the entry site in Wells River:

Now, where were we....

Oh yes. The boat capsized within a few hours of the beginning of the trip down the river.

“What happened?” I howled at Todd. I stood up in the water, which was up to my mid-thigh. I could feel the welt forming on my right shin; I had bashed it against the rock on the bottom. My whole shin was on fire.

Griffen swam, his tongue lolling out with glee, a vacant look of bliss in his big, brown eyes. Nemo, however was not amused with the water. He was swimming toward the Vermont side of the river. Unfortunately Interstate 91 is on the Vermont side river bank.

“Go after Nemo. I’ll bail us out.” Todd said. I hobbled through the water, which rapidly dropped to chest deep. I swam/waded after Nemo, calling out to him. He was having none of it, and wanted out of the water. By the time I got to the edge of the river, Nemo was half way up the bank and climbing. The highway was at the top of the river bank. I was starting to get scared that he’d make it all the way to the highway.

I scaled up the bank after him, and managed to get my hands on him. I slid down the bank and held him as I got back into the water. By the time I’d gotten a hold of Nemo, Todd had bailed the canoe and came to our side of the river. I got back into the canoe, and Todd filled me in on the damage.

“Everything’s soaked, Beej. We need to find a campsite, so we can start a fire and get our things dried out.”

“Fine with me”

“I am looking at the map right now… CRAP!”

“What’s wrong?” I turned around to see that the maps Todd had laminated before we left were floating on the current of the river, never to be seen again.

To be continued.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Before and After

Sorry for the delay in writing. Todd and I have been ridiculously busy. I know I also have not posted the newest installment of the CT River trip either. This time around I wanted to post pictures, and haven't been near my home computer for long enough to get the pictures off of it and upload them here.

So, ridiculously busy at what? Well, this time of year we're always running around trying to get the boat in the water. There's always some huge restoration project we're trying to finish up before she goes in. Well, this year we ripped out the floors in the main salon of the boat. Then we discovered that some of the supports underneath were rotted, so we had to slather fiberglass resin here and there to make them strong again.

The floors feel great now. Nice and solid. Though I need to varnish them to protect them. Right now they are still bare wood. I went out and bought a new pair of shoes that I keep in the boat as clean shoes so I won't drag dirt onto my brand new floors too. Someday soon I will get to wear those shoes outside the boat. I am already fantasizing about where I will wear them.

At any rate. Here are the before and afters:

Before. We ripped out the table, which belongs where the two holes are. Then we pulled out the rotted parquet. I thought I had actually liked the parquet. Until I saw the after picture, that is.


The boat's in the water now. So all we have to do is finish the oil change on the engine and generator, varnish the floors, put the booms and sails on, clean, and bring out the cushions and we'll be ready to move aboard again.