The month of Jun was filled with lots of friends and family visits, including a trip up to New England. This trip included a visit to my old hometown of Nashua, NH, reconnecting with some former school mates, attending my nephew’s wedding in RI, and releasing my deceased brother’s ashes in VT according to his wishes. It was yet another month that passed by way too quickly which, as the old saying suggests, I must have been having lots of fun. Indeed I did!
Visit with Family in MD
I continue to spend lots of quality time with the kids and grands. On a wonderful mid-week warm and sunny day, I met up with my daughter Sam and her husband Ryan, and my two grands Raelynn and Savannah for a dinner out at a local pub. It’s a nice venue with outdoor seating along the shores of the Back River. The food was very good, and the company and kid entertainment was priceless!
The next day, Sam, Savannah and I went to visit a local farm. There were lots of animals to feed and pet, a fake cow to milk, and lots of outbuilding amusements and playgrounds for Savannah to enjoy. She loved interacting with all the animals, and really enjoyed her pony ride. It was a wonderful afternoon visiting the farm, and watching Savannah interacting with all the animals. I think she’s got a bit of her mother’s love of animals in her.
Lastly, I had a wonderful evening dining with my in-laws Mike and Helen, and their friends Don and Megin, and Mike’s long time law school friend Paula. We went to a restaurant called the Charleston which is a shwanky place in downtown Baltimore known for its fine dining and well curated wine selections. The evening featured a multi-course meal of speciality food items to include lobster bisque, prime beef steak tartare, shrimp and grits, artichoke soup, wild rockfish ceviche, pan roasted foie gras, grilled french quail – just to name a few. And each of the courses came with a specially selected wine accompaniment that was to die for. It was an amazing meal with some truly amazing folks. Thanks Mike and Helen for the invite!
Trip to New England
There were a number of events taking me up to the New England states, so a 9-day trip up to my old stomping ground was definitely in order. I spent the first 6 days in Nashua, NH – where I grew up as a kid. I even visited my childhood home expecting to see the same old green siding and much dated look. To my surprise, the house had been totally renovated. Turns out there was a fire in the home a while back, and the owners gutted what was left and did a several month full rehab and make over. I’ve got to say, it looks great from the outside. I was half tempted to go knock on the door and see if I could get a tour of the inside, but common sense got the better of me and I thought better of it. A couple of my brothers have said they may take a trip to get an inside tour, so maybe someday we’ll get a peek at what was done to the inside as well. It was also nice to see all the painted Jersey Walls used to create downtown outside seating areas on Main St. An obvious creation as a result of the pandemic, but certainly a welcomed addition to make downtown more walkable and friendly. I hope it stays!
On Tue of the week, after spending all morning and part of the afternoon at the Ford dealership (more on that later), I travelled to York Beach, ME to spend the afternoon at my brothers beach house. Two of my other brothers were already there, and we were later joined by my aunts Joan and Marge, my uncle Ray, my nephew Matt, and cousins Mariam and Marc. We all had a wonderful dinner, including what else but Maine lobster! It was wonderful seeing everyone there.
Also while in Nashua, I reconnected with several friends – some of whome I’ve seen in the past few years, and others, well let’s just say quite a bit longer. I enjoyed a wonderful outdoor lunch with my high school sweatheart Laura and her significant other Cindy (pictured at right, bottom left). I had met up with Laura back when I was in Nashua a few years prior, and even had them over to the RV for dinner. Then later in the year I met up with her in Florida while she was on a business trip. It’s always nice to see her and Cindy, and to catch up on what they’ve been up to.
I also caught up with my cousin Lucy (pictured right, bottom right). Her and I had camped together several times over the years, and I credit her for introducing me to the now famous campfire cooked banana boats. It was great catching up once again!
Next, I had the absolute pleasure of reconnecting with several old friends – specifically many who I’ve not seen in 48 years since our 8th grade graduation (pictured right – top). We all went to 1st thru 8th grade elementary school together back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. While I did reconnect with Theresa three years prior when I was last in Nashua, the rest of the crew Dave, Tom, Steve, and Leo I’ve not seen in 48 years. It was absolutely amazing and wonderful catching up with them after so many years. We’ve all pretty much lived our lives in the time span that we’ve not seen each other, so there was lots of catching up to do. Kudo’s to Leo for creating the Class of ’73 IJS facebook group, and being the ringleader for finding all of us and bringing us all back together. Work has begun planning for a 50th reunion in two years, so I definitely look forward to seeing more of these folks in the near future.
I also got to spend time with my old friends John and Janet, but sadly did not get a photo this time. Sorry about that! But, I also did get to meet and enjoy the company of their granddaughter Kasey – who is an absolute doll. Thanks for the time and the visit!
Next was a couple days in RI to attend the wedding of my nephew Nick and his bride Meghan. This was rescheduled from 2020 when, like many others, it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Now a year later, they finally got to have their day. It was a wonderful wedding at The Farmer’s Daughter – a beautiful garden center that has a gorgeous outdoor venue fully landscaped and loaded with lush gardens. The rain gods timed everything perfectly – waiting until after the ceremony and initial casual reception until the clouds opened up with a downpour. By then, we were all seated under the big tent enjoying the exquisitely catered meal of steak and lobster, and enjoying the music from the live band. As you can see in the photo, brothers Dick and Don were lobster eaters, while brothers Dave and Gerry and Dave’s wife Debbie were not. Let there be no doubt, I was certainly among those sporting a bib and digging into the lobster. Besides being with all my brothers, I got a chance to catch up with many of my nieces and nephews who were also present. It was great seeing all of them. It was a beautiful wedding and I’m thankful that I was able to attend. Congrats Nick and Meghan!
Lastly, it was off to VT for a couple days so that my brothers and I could have a ceremony to fulfill the wishes and scatter the ashes of our brother Paul. We all met up on Sunday afternoon at the beautiful Riverside Hotel that sits along the shores of the Connecticut River. We all went out for a wonderful dinner that evening, then off to bed. My brother Paul wanted his ashes spread into the Connecticut River at sunrise. He was a lover of the water and an avid sailer during his life. The Connecticut River, the longest in New England at roughly 406 miles, flows southerly from Quebec, Canada, through four New England states, and discharges at Long Island Sound. My brother Dick put together a series of poems and readings for each of us to read, after which we all took turns sending the ashes from the foot bridge down to the river. Besides us immediate family, we were joined by a cousin Roland, and Paul’s longtime friend and travel companion Betty, and her daughter. Despite it being very early, it was a wonderful sending off for my brother, and met with all his wishes. May he rest in eternal peace!
Spare Tire PSA
So my trip to New England was not without some drama. Before I left for the trip, I had been having some problems with a slow leak in one of my front tires. I went to a tire shop, and they diagnosed it was a bad valve stem, and replaced it. That seemed to do the trick, and I thought that issue would now be behind me. Well, not so fast. The morning after I arrived in NH, I jumped into my truck to go have a quick lunch. I pulled out of the parking space and quickly realized there was something wrong with one of my front tires. After pulling back into the space, I noticed the tire not only flat, but after having driven on it it, it had separated from the rim thus eliminating any hopes of just airing it up. So my only option was to use the spare. Now grant you, I’ve owned the truck for upwards of five years, but in all that time, I never had the need to use the spare. As I soon discovered, the spare release requires the use of some sort of specialized key socket, which as the second owner of the truck, I apparently no longer posses. So, my only option was to have the truck towed to the local Ford dealership. The next morning, I caught an Uber to Ford and had them replace both front tires and also install new valve stems in each. I was done having this problem and figured this would be the best and final solution.
Well, not so fast there buckaroo! $600 later and the next morning, I was once again faced with a flat tire. This time at least, I was able to simply add air. I did so, then returned to the Ford dealership. After a few hours of them fooling with it, they threw up their hands and said they did not have the correct valve stem for this truck, and referred me to a tire specialist in downtown Nashua. So, there I drove and after explaining to them what I had recently been through, they indicated they would get it right. It took longer than thay had expected, and required trial and error with a number of different valve stems before they felt good that they had finally fixed it. I paid them the $40, and off I went. During the night I was thinking that I should go back to this tire company in the morning and have them install the correct valve stem on the other tire too – sort of a preventative measure to prevent that tire from an eventual failure. So, that was the plan for the next morning. However, that plan was short lived as once again I went out to the truck the next morning only to find that same damn tire flat again. Back to the tire specialist I went, and they assured me they would put their best tire guy on it, and figure out what was happening. About 30 minutes later, the issue was finally uncovered. Using soapy spray, they found an actual crack in my wheel near where the valve stem was located. So, back to the Ford dealership, and $1,400 later for a new wheel, I was back to the tire shop, had the tire mounted on the new wheel, new valve stems to both front tires, and off I went. Knock on wood, I’m now here just over a week later and the tire has been problem free. I still need to see if I can get whatever special key socket I need to get to the spare. Otherwise, I’ll have to eventually have that drilled out and replaced with a non-key version.
So, I tell you all this story so that if you have never used your spare, or your equipment to jack up your vehicle, please go out and inventory all of it NOW. Make sure you have it, that it all works, and that you have access to a good usable spare. A hard lesson for me to have learned.
My summer MD getaway is half over. I’ve had tremendous enjoyment so far, and look forward to a couple more months of fun. I’ve booked a cabin at a favorite Yogi Bear campground for a 4-day vacation and AJ birthday celebration for all of us next month, so that will be fun. I’m really thankful to have reconnected with my former elementary school classmates after so many decades, and hopefully it serves as a reminder to all of us that time is short – either stay connected or take positive strides to reconnect with family and friends. I for one am finding this element of my nomadic lifestyle the most rewarding, and I look forward to reconnecting with others in the months and years to come. Till then, safe travels!