From Nantucket we hopped back on the ferry and out a little farther on the Cape to Chatham, MA where my parents were renting a house for the week. I can sum up the few days in three words BEACH, FOOD, WINE. It was delightful! While we were there, Tom celebrated his 41st birthday. We went to Hyannis for some stand-up paddleboarding and paddled around the harbor for a few hours. We discovered that two paddleboards just fit in the Westy if we rotate the front passenger seat 90 degrees and put the back bench down. But that also meant that I had to sit up on the side cabinets jammed against the window for the ride from the rental shop to the beach. It was a short ride to the harbor thankfully. During the outing Tom decided to try and jump from his board to mine and swamped us both. Apparently from shore it appeared we were drowning, because a very nice man and his daughter sped over to us on their jet ski and asked if we were okay. Oops! Later that afternoon we went on a seal watch tour. The seals in Chatham are everywhere and it was pretty cool to get up close to groups of them. We saw a lot just cruising around in the water, but then we came up on a huge group "hauled up" on a sand bar at low tide. Very cool.
We also stopped by the Chatham Bars Inn, where Tom's sister Michelle and her husband were engaged! It's a truly impressive piece of property. We had a great time with my mom and dad and had some truly fantastic meals. We certainly were well fed for the trip back to Chicago!
The drive from Indian Lake, NY to Boston was HOOOOOTTTT and the air conditioning in the Westy does not currently work. That made for a long drive, especially since one of us (this one) didn't quite know how to drive a manual transmission yet. I had practiced a few times while at Camp and felt somewhat confident that I could handle a wide-open freeway. Unfortunately, the first time we pulled off the road to switch drivers, I pulled back onto the highway and right into bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting to go through a tollbooth. All of 5 minutes into my maiden voyage I did something wrong (I'm still not sure what) and stalled the engine. Despite multiple attempts to restart, the Westy had had enough of this amateur. Tom was eventually able to get her restarted and we rolled over to the shoulder for a bit to let her cool down. That would be the last of my driving until the trip back to Chicago the following weekend.
Anywho - we were headed to Boston for a few nights to visit with my sister and brother-in-law. Tom also happened to have business in Boston and was scheduled for a dinner in the North End (Boston's Italian neighborhood) the night we rolled into town. We spent a little too much time waterskiing that morning and got on the road a little later than intended. We were doing fine, but realized that Tom hadn't brought a sport coat with us on the trip (the Westy doesn't generally call for formal attire). We stopped off at some stores on the way and picked up the needed items. This meant that we were really cutting the time close. Dinner was scheduled for 7pm and the GPS indicated that if we drove DIRECTLY to the restaurant we would arrive at 6:55pm. That would give Tom 5 minutes to change out of sweaty driving clothes and into a dress shirt and jacket in a parking lot in 100 degree heat. Kelly and Joe were going to meet us there and I would have dinner with them separately. I even managed to get us lost in the new North End expressway exchanges (last time I lived there, there were no tunnels!!!) but we made it on time. Kelly and Joe even managed to see us driving by and flagged us down to pick them up on the way to the parking lot. All ended well, Tom had a great meeting with his work people, Kelly and Joe and I had a great meal in the North End, and everyone made it home safely! The next night we went out to a great meal as a foursome and had a fantastic time. It was an awesome visit.
Saturday morning we drove to Hyannis to catch the early ferry over to Nantucket for the triathlon. Tom's childhood friend, Bill Burnett, coordinates triathlons and duathlons throughout the state and does a fantastic job. Tom and I both have done the Cohasset Triathlon previously. The swim consisted of a pretty grueling ocean swim, partially against the outgoing tide, then a 14 mile bike and a 3.3 mile run. During the race, Tom and another racer, also named Tom, ended up biking and running side by side and keeping each other motivated. The other Tom was biking solo on a tandem mountain bike! We ended up chatting with him and his family at the end of the race and even met up with him at lunch later in the weekend. The triathlon was a success, even though there was a huge thunderstorm right in the middle of the event. Bill, Jamie, and their team did an awesome job keeping everyone safe and happy throughout. Check out their other events here: Streamline Events.
We spent the next 4 days on Nantucket with the Carneys. Spencer was one of Tom's best men at our wedding and his parents used to own, but now rent a house on the island during the summer. We stayed with the elder Carneys and their two adorable grandchildren for the first two days and then Sue and Spencer joined us for the next two days. Spencer and Tom took their ladies and the little Carneys sailing for an afternoon. The boat was a little on the small side with 6 people aboard, but the wind was great and it was an awesome afternoon. We had an amazing dinner at The Summer House and an amazing after-dinner at The Brotherhood one night. The Carneys were so wonderful and gracious to house us for the few days that we were there. We loved spending time with everyone at the beach and hanging out with them at the house. We hope to be back again soon!
After a gorgeous morning at Niagara Falls, we drove through upstate New York towards Camp. Readers from the East Coast might know that a Camp is not necessarily the kind that your parents send you to every summer. A Camp is a sort of family retreat. My grandparents bought Camp back when my mom was in high school and they have been spending their summers there ever since I can remember. My family would spend about 2 weeks a summer at Camp during my childhood, and it seemed no matter where in the country we moved, Camp was always our touchstone.
Camp has all the toys you could ask for: speedboat, rowboat, canoes, kayaks, a little Sunfish sailboat, waterskis, fishing gear, ping-pong table (more on that later!), and bikes, with hiking, tennis, and golf just down the road. While we were there, Tom was at the end of his training for a sprint-distance triathlon in Nantucket. He swam across the lake (I was his spotter from the rowboat), then we biked about 12 1/2 miles through beautiful mountain back roads, and then a short run up and down the lake road.
We also hiked Peaked Mountain with my mom. We thought we had picked a relatively easy and enjoyable hike, but it turned out to be much longer than we anticipated! We actually ran into 2 other groups that were heading back because they thought they were on the wrong trail due to the fact that they had been hiking a few hours and had yet to start ascending. We ended up at a beautiful pond with a great spot for lunch. The actual peak was just past that. We often joke about the difference between East Coast hiking and West Coast hiking - there are very few, if any, switchbacks on East Coast trails, they just go straight up the gut! This trail was no exception. It was a gorgeous day and we could see the river we had hiked along all the way to the pond. It was a very cool landscape with lots of beaver dams, grassland, young forest growth, and dense brush/marshland.
Back at the homestead, Tom was able to help out my grandfather with a list of fix-it jobs. They spent a few days chopping trees, clearing bogs from the boat launch, sweeping leaves and debris off the roof (!!), and even built a new ping-pong table. We spent some time learning how to skull with my mom and grandmother. They (along with my grandfather) had taken classes and had just bought a new (used) single skull with a red hull which they named the Winnie Lee. It was so much fun to take out in the morning when the lake was nice and calm.
It was such a great few days with perfect weather, delicious food, and people we love! We can't wait to head back again next summer.
Friday night, Tom picked me up at work in the Westy and we headed east! Our first stopover was Detroit. Running a little later than expected, we called Uncle Dave and Aunt Denise, who happen to live just outside Detroit. Uncle Dave must have thought we were joking when we asked to camp in his driveway, because he sure was surprised to see our big green bus the next morning! After a yummy chocolate croissant breakfast we headed to Henry Ford Village to see Tom's Grandfather.
Grandfather is 95 years old, but as quick as ever. We had a great time visiting and hearing stories about his time in the war and about his travels with Tom's Grammie after they were retired. Grandfather guessed that they took 2-3 trips a year overseas! They traveled to New Zealand and Nepal on two separate trips. One fantastic story from Nepal was when they had only a few hours before their international flight left, but Grammie really wanted to take a helicopter ride to see Everest. She finally convinced Grandfather to go and they made it back JUST in time for their flight home. If you know Tom, you can tell where he got his adventurous spirit (and airport arrival habits!). The photo on the right is a scan from Grammie's journal of their trip to Nepal, which Nancy (Tom's mother) gave us for Christmas.
After taking Grandfather out to lunch and saying our goodbyes, we headed to Greenfield Village where Tom's Uncle Dave was playing in an old-time baseball game. He plays for the Northville Eclipse team in a historic baseball league. The Eclipse played hard against the Greenfield Village Lah-Dee-Dahs, but unfortunately lost the game. It was so much fun to see them play by the 1860s rules (including gentlemanly conduct and no gloves!). Check out the team website and photo here. After touring Greenfield Village, we hit the road again.
Our second night was in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was beautiful, but without campgrounds. We ended up parking on the street next to a public park and awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over the lake. We had a great breakfast in town (Canadians are SO friendly, a woman even gave Tom $2 to buy a newspaper because he didn't have change!) and headed to check out the falls. The Canadian falls are amazing. The view from that side is arguably better than from the US side because you are looking straight into the horseshoe. Driving out of town, we stumbled across a war reenactment camp at Fort George! We started wandering around, but then realized that we were actually right in the midst of the camp and the spectator area wasn't up yet.
Then it was back on the road and into the US again, headed for Indian Lake, NY!