The Circus Travels The Eastern Seaboard

The Ringmaster's personal circus recently returned from a ten day tour of the Eastern Seaboard!  It was an amazing time, but we are very happy to be home.  A six hour drive from Raleigh to Baltimore became eight hours on the road, but that's nothing new to us.  There's just something about Southern Maryland that makes people decide to park on I-95 and enjoy the scenery (I guess).  Not to mention the broken down tour bus in the center lane just outside of DC.  A few days at my mom's house, and then we hit the road again, on our way to Connecticut.

Here is a top ten list of our favorite vacation memories, in no particular order.

(1) Geo-caching
For those of you, who might be unfamiliar with this "sport/game", then may I direct you here to learn all about it.  For those who are familiar, let me tell you about our travel caching adventures.  It started at the NC border, where I left my mark in a micro-cache hidden at the Virginia Welcome Center.  On our first day in Baltimore we donated pints of blood to the thorns and mosquitoes that guarded an unfinadable cache in the woods, but we were rewarded with two other finds on that day.  Once in West Haven, Connecticut, we found our first cache right in the town square!  We braved the rain, and the wrath of the nesting American Oystercatchers, to hunt for another unfindable on the beach, but made up for it by finding one on our day trip to the Mystic Seaport!  Before leaving New England, we braved snakes and skeeters to find another in a hollowed out tree trunk in the woods.  On the way back home, I revisited a previous find in Baltimore to place my trackable Travelbug, Benny the Bear.

(2) Batman
This is one of the nicknames for my four year old niece, who regularly dresses up in super hero costumes to rid the living area of dastardly villains.  I haven't seen her in two years, but in that time she has somehow morphed into an eccentric, three foot tall, thirty year old Yale professor... with attitude.  Her precocious quips kept our jaws gaping in shock and awe, as did her rebellious tantrums.  (I may someday have to incorporate a series in this blog, dedicated to her antics, because you really need to experience a series of events and conversations with her to truly understand why my sister is losing her hair, and my mother babbles in the corner after a day with her).      

(3) Mr. Cooper
The working cooper's shop, (the barrel maker), was an educational experience.  The cooper himself, whose name was Sam, looked just like actor Patrick Harris!  He recruited my Princess to assist in a couple of demonstrations.  Then Punkin joined in, along with several other children, to construct a small bucket.  Several hours later, as the village was closing up for the day, and all of the employees and volunteers were heading out, along with straggling visitors, Mr. Cooper stopped me.  With his hand on my shoulder, and his bright blue eyes looking right into mine, he complimented me on the raising of my daughters.  He said that of all the children, they were the best behaved, with the sweetest personalities.  He said that he just knew that that would be my doing.  Up until that point, it had been a wonderful day.  The weather was just perfect, the sky was clear, a little breeze blew off the harbor.  I had gathered and experienced a wealth of historical information.  My Hubsy, as always, was chivalrous and generous.  The girls were happy and not fighting.  And then Mr. Cooper came along, and made me cry, bless his heart.  He just sent me over the top.  I don't think Mike Tyson could have punched the smile off of my face that evening.

(4) The Breaking of the Wind
As we toured a quaint little museum house full of nineteenth century (and earlier) works of art, depicting whaling ships and their captains, and such, the little old lady who stood nearby experienced a little wind in her sails, so to speak.  I must admit that as the echo died away, I resigned myself to the possibility that the culprit was indeed one of my own clan, and so I simply walked away in delightful ignorance.  Hubsy tells me that he immediately and automatically looked in her direction with shock and disgust on his face, only to be met by her own disgust, at his disgust.  Of course, as soon as the lady left the room, the kids ran over to publicly accuse their dad! 

(5) Revolutionary
While checking out the tourism site for Connecticut, we saw that their motto is "Still Revolutionary".  Thinking on our temporary lodging in Hubsy's mother's apartment:  no internet, and only two television channels (both resembling a perpetual Nick At Night marathon).  Whenever you got a cellphone call, or a text message, There goes the channel!  If it weren't for our Kindles, full of gaming apps, and the local library's wi-fi service, the kids would've lost their minds!  Hubsy and I looked at each other and said "Yup, still revolutionary."

Every Circus Has A Horse
(6) Jack And Zena
I am such a sucker for a horse and carriage.  As soon as I spotted one rolling around the Mystic village, I started snapping pictures.  After lunch, since the restaurant was just across the lawn from the carriage stop, we decided to take the ride.  That's when we got a real education!  John (or Jack), the driver, explained how he and some of his 20 horses have appeared in several movies, and a television series.  Matthew McConoughey and Morgan Freeman rode in that very carriage in the movie "Amistad".  And Hugh Jackman was seen riding it in "Kate & Leopold".  He currently films scenes in the series "Boardwalk Empire".  While we were captivated by the Hollywood connection, Zena became captivated by Hubsy.  After the ride, we stood around and chatted with John, and took photos of the horse, as we rubbed her sides.  She kept turning her head, and butting Hubs with her nose, until he petted her again.  I swear, we just can't take him anywhere where the gals don't flock around.

(7) Fort McHenry
Another day of soaking up a little history, especially in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.  My Dad joined us, as did my sister and the little Batman.  The day started off interesting when we lost Hubsy in a crowded theater room.  After searching the lobby, the bathrooms, the gift shop, and peering outside ...  Sissy  discovered him among the crowd.  We called it her first cache!    During our tour of the grounds, I reacquainted myself with one of the old prison cells, near which I had one of my first paranormal experiences as a child.  No experience this time, though my daughters and I gave loving prayers to any remaining spirits.  Batman beat on the bongos for a while.  Actually, they were barrels of gunpowder.  I hollered to her "they're gonna blow!", and she ran like the wind.  Some superhero.  We found a bird's nest with beautiful blue eggs nestled inside.  We arrived in time to watch the changing of the flag, and watched volunteer soldiers stand at attention while musicians played.  To top the whole day off, Sissy and I stood at the tip of Locust Point (the little peninsula in Baltimore's outer harbor, on which the Fort sits), and memorialized our great great grandfather who drowned near here in 1897.  The following weekend, on our way through Baltimore, heading back home to North Carolina, we were lucky enough to catch part of the Blue Angels Airshow, being performed over the harbor, and directly over our car on I-95!

Second Cousin-In-Law
(8)Meeting Friends
Some time ago, I began Facebook chatting with one of Hubsy's long lost cousins.  I say "long lost" because they are both the kind of relatives that you typically only see at weddings and funerals, and my Hubsy typically only goes to the funerals.  Cuz and I stay in touch regularly, and discuss anything from politics and religion to social issues and (my favorite) family ancestry.  He's a real intellectual, and his vocabulary intimidates me, though his never ending stream of shared guitar photos bores me.  But when Facebook says "He read this article:", I think I'm gonna check it out (as long as it's not about the Grateful Dead).

(9) The Time Warp
As I mentioned in the Ft McHenry section, I nurtured my internal connection with a respected and beloved ancestor, Peter Barrows, with a tree and a prayer, at Locust Point.  While trapped in a traffic nightmare in New Haven, I glanced down a side street and was able to pick out the house where my husband's paternal great grandparents had once lived, after immigrating from Italy. Learning the Cooper's secrets in Mystic Seaport gave me a taste of life for some of my earlier ancestors, who also worked in the trade.  As an ancestry researcher, I am completely in love with the history, and wherever I go, I tend to find myself making connections to the family tree. 

(10) Quality Time
Of course, we had our quality time together on this trip, but The Boy had some quality time of his own.  While we were experiencing a celebration of American Independence at Ft McHenry, he was experiencing a little independence of his own.  Ten days alone in the house, with no one to nag him about his chores.  Having to rely on his own feet to get to and from work, without the assistance of our car.  Having to prepare his own meals, without me to answer his pleas of "Mom, how do I cook this?".  He is twenty years old now, and I was hoping that a little taste of life on his own would encourage him to get that second job, so that he could save for his own place.  Hmmm... Didn't seem to work.

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