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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mystic Seaport: An Afternoon Escape

On Monday, Memorial Day, Chuck and I spent a few wonderful hours at Mystic seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. To visit Mystic Seaport is to step back in time, to the seafaring days of whaling ships and small seaside New England towns in 1876. People in period costumes wander the dirt streets while a horse drawn buggy transports guests around the village. This is one of Chuck's favorite places to visit. Going to Mystic Seaport allows one to escape the everyday hustle and bustle of computers and television, and be transported back to the late 19th century and a simpler life. Each Memorial Day for the past 3 or 4 years, we have visited Mystic Seaport and participated in a very solemn but beautiful ceremony which includes a church service and laying of a wreath in the waters of the Mystic River to remember the soldiers who died in the civil war.I can't help but wonder how the reenactors can stand the heat, all dressed up in what would have been their Sunday finest. Or how the women and men who actually lived in those days could have withstood it as well. There is also a Lobster Fest on the grounds at the edge of the village underneath a wooden shed. For a reasonable fee, guests can enjoy a lobster, ear of corn on the cob, cole slaw, and lemonade or iced tea. If you leave a $1 deposit for a lobster cracker, you can turn the cracker back in for a large chocolate chip or sugar cookie for dessert.Inside the shed, which has open sides so diners can see beautiful views of the river and old sailing ships, people sit at long wooden tables covered with red and white checkered tablecloths and eat their lobster meals. Wine and beer can be purchased for an extra fee. For those of us who don't like lobster, there is a double hot dog meal, also with corn on the cob and cole slaw, that can be purchased instead. I am one that likes tradition, and this is a tradition that has become very enjoyable to us as a couple.We start at the church for the service, follow a parade of townsfolk to the water's edge for the laying of the wreath, and then head down to the Lobster Festival. There's a wonderful camaraderie between guests under the shed as we all enjoy a delicious meal together outside at the water's edge. After lunch, there is always plenty to do and see. Mystic Seaport has many old village buildings to visit, centered around a central green, with a gazebo. The buildings include houses, a blacksmith shop, a chapel and a church, a boat maker's shop, grocery store,schoolhouse ( 1 room, of course), and a tavern. There are also museum buildings which house a variety of retired figureheads that used to grace the front of whaling ships, old portraits, scrimshaw, and the like. There's also a children's art room,a planetarium, and of course, not only one gift shop, but two! Once you have been to Mystic Seaport a few times, you pretty much have seen everything, except that exhibits do change periodically throughout the year. One of the best things about knowing the Seaport so well is that you don't have to be in a hurry when you go there on frequent visits.We are members so once you pay the annual membership fee, you can go back to visit the village as many times as you like for free throughout the year. On Monday, we enjoyed a nice leisurely stroll down the streets, stopping to sit on a bench in one of the backyard gardens of a historic home. We visited a home that I don't even remember touring before and saw a one room millinery shop of the woman of the house, one of the first of many women who worked from home in our great country. We sat on a bench in the sunshine on the green and listened to sailor shanty songs from the reenactors.We watched some Seaport workers and guests, old and young, play an old fashioned game of baseball with period bats and balls, and NO gloves...ouch! And we enjoyed each others company while the breeze coming off the river kept us cool in the sunshine. I took a lot of pictures, and at some point, I may be able to figure out how to put them on this blog! All in all, it was a wonderful, relaxing late Spring day that we were able to enjoy together without the aid of technology, but with the aid of Mother Nature, good food, and a historic treasure: Mystic Seaport.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pillow Talk

So, here's a question I have been wondering about lately...how many of you engage in "pillow talk?" Do you know what I am talking about? Of course I have heard the term many times over the years. I do believe that Doris Day and Rock Hudson were in a movie of the same name. But what I am talking about is just before bed, or maybe after some loving moments, do you and your spouse lay down, facing each other, and have real heart to heart talks? I have never done this before my marriage to Chuck. It is a VERY intimate atmosphere when 2 people who love each other are facing each other in bed together, with their faces only a few inches apart...well, not THAT close, but say 10 inches or so. It's a time to wind down,gaze into each others' eyes with love, and for us, say what's in our hearts. For some reason, when we are this close, we don't talk about the goings on of that day, or of the week. Being that close to each other brings about an intimate, loving atmosphere, and never seems like the time or place to say things like,"Why didn't you do the dishes tonight or you forgot to put the toilet seat down again" etc.For us, it's a time of loving words, and encouraging each others' dreams. I find it's a precious few moments for us, before we drift of to a restful night's sleep. And now that we have started doing this, if we forget, it seems like something was missing in our routine.Do you engage in pillow talk?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gillette's Castle: The Perfect Day

Last Saturday, Chuck and I had what I consider to be a perfect day! The sun was shining here in Connecticut, and it was the perfect temperature to be outside in the Springtime air. Chuck had been asking me if I wanted to go on a picnic with him for about 5 consecutive days! Never being one to turn down something as romantic as a picnic with the man I love, I agreed to go.We went to Gillette's Castle State Park. The park consists of acres of woods and a castle on the property which was built of stone by actor William Gillette in 1914, and overlooks the Connecticut River. We have toured the castle a few times before, so it didn't bother us that the castle was closed for tours until next weekend, since the grounds were still open. When we first arrived, we chose a picnic table down near a small pond. We both sat on the same side of the picnic table so we could have a view of the pond. We ate Subway sandwiches and home made tuna macaroni salad that Chuck had made. As we were eating, we were treated to a view of a pond filled with lily pads. About half way through our meal, we heard bull frogs beginning to croak. There was another answering croak from another pond behind us. It continued on, with the frogs answering each other back and forth, seemingly unaware that there were humans around who were enjoying their concert! After lunch, we walked around the pond and we able to see lots of small fish and quite a few pollywogs as well. I love nature and any wildlife I get to see in my life is like a blessing from God. So I was pretty excited to hear a frog concert and see pollywogs. I was also looking for turtles, but didn't see any. After lunch we decided to take a walk on one of the paths through the woods. The path we took was the original path for a small train that Gillette had built that would carry his guests on a scenic ride around his property. There is no longer a train, or tracks, but there is a wooden foot bridge that replaced the original train bridge. As we walked over the bridge, we looked to our right and there was the larger of the two ponds. It is much bigger than the first pond. I saw something that looked like a large rock sticking out of the water. I was hoping that it was actually a very large turtle because I could make out what looked like a head sticking out of the front. Chuck was sure it was just a rock. As we watched it, we noticed two small turtles on a log behind the rock. And I saw just the slightest movement of what I still thought was the head of the turtle/rock. We were very far away so rather than argue about it being a turtle or a rock, we saw a lower trail below us and decided when we followed the path down there, we would see for sure if it was a rock or a turtle. A bit further down from that bridge near the pond, we came to a tunnel...the tunnel the original train used to ride through. We went inside where it was dark and damp, and a bit eerie, and I must admit, we stopped to kiss in the secluded tunnel. It was pretty romantic, stealing kisses in the dark... like a tunnel of love! Coming out the other side, the pathway wound around to the right, down to the lower area.I saw something on a rock that didn't seem right. It wasn't moving at all, but I recognized it as a chipmunk pretty quickly. We walked by it on the path, and he never moved. He blended in pretty well with the surroundings of leaves and fallen logs so my guess is he probably felt that if he stayed as still as a stone, we wouldn't notice. While we walked, we heard an owl repeatedly hooting. Although there were other people enjoying the grounds, we didn't really see anyone up close and personal so it felt as though we were alone in the woods together, with all of nature, and wild animals surrounding us. A few minutes down the path, I heard a rustling sound. Just then, Chuck stopped me and looked at me. I thought he had heard the rustling sound as well, and had stopped me so we could be quiet and hear what it was, but he actually stopped to get closer to me, and leaned in and gave me a very romantic kiss. It was so sweet. I don't know many men that are this romantic and stop their wives in the woods for the purpose of kissing. It made me once again realize just how blessed I am to have him as my husband...someone who appreciates the special moments we spend together as much as I do. When we stopped kissing, I started to tell him how nice that was, but we heard even more rustling in the woods then, and looking behind him, we saw a deer leaping away from us. It was beautiful and we could see it's white tail flashing as she leapt away. She didn't moved too far away, but stopped to watch us, and gingerly picked her way through the brush and trees, but we could still see her white tail as she walked. Soon we were back at the larger pond but on the lower pathway, and after a few seconds of observing the turtle/rock, and looking through the camera viewfinder, Chuck admitted it was a VERY large turtle, sunning itself on a log. It's shell was dried, which made it look like a rock, rather than the wet shell of a turtle emerging from the water. After Chuck took some amazing close ups of this turtle, we walked on a bit, and I saw another turtle, about the same size, on another log. I imagined that they were also husband and wife, enjoying a nice day on the pond. At that point we were almost back to our picnic area so we decided to go up near the castle and see the view of the Connecticut River from the stone balcony of the castle. The view was beautiful as it was still a clear, sunny day. We watched the ferry taking cars over the Connecticut River, walked around on the grounds bit more, and decided to end our day at the park. On the way home, Chuck said he had a great idea, and found a cute little ice cream shop on the edge of East Haddam, Ct. East Haddam is a quaint little town that includes a playhouse, restaurant, and small shops sprinkled along the street. The ice cream was delicious, and a perfect way to end a perfect afternoon. I am blessed, and every day I thank God that Chuck is my husband. When the days drag due to my kids, or a bad day at work, etc. I will remember this day always, and it will lift my spirits and bring me a smile, and remind me of the special memories that we made that day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Weekend Away

This past weekend, Chuck and I went to Newport, Rhode Island. It's about an hour from us, and we have gone there many times, and seen a lot of the sites. But it's a place that calls us back because it's so beautiful, full of history, good restaurants, and the ocean. I wrote a hub about it on Hub Pages, so if you want to read about sites to see for tourists, you can read about it here: http://karenhellier.hubpages.com/hub/Newport-Rhode-Island-Sites-to-Visit-as-a-Tourist But I just wanted to write tonight about how weekend getaways can be so rejuvenating, even if you don't go too far from home. There's something refreshing about getting out of your comfort zone, away from the places you see every day, and get a change of scenery. It's also nice to get away from your house...where so many things can distract a couple from being able to concentrate on just being together and enjoying each other's company.This includes cleaning, yard work, laundry, etc. Now sometimes, if you have children, the distractions may follow you, so I would advise if you do go away for a weekend without the kids, to leave your cell phone behind, at least for dinner, or a romantic walk on the beach. Hopefully the kids are in good hands with someone you trust, so to not be available by phone for an hour or two helps you to relax and concentrate on each other. I was happy to leave my phone behind at dinner Saturday night, and to enjoy a fantastic meal and glass of wine at this great little restaurant called the Brick Alley Pub.The next day, we did one tourist activity which I had never done before, but have always wanted to. In Newport, there's something called the Cliff Walk which is a 3 1/2 mile walk between the backs of mansions and houses on the shore, and the sea. There are areas where if you wander off the path, you will be on the edge of cliffs, but if you stay on the path, the scenery is beautiful, and you can smell the ocean air, and hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. It's very invigorating, but relaxing at the same time. Unfortunately, my cell phone did ring a few too many times this past weekend, due to having 3 teens, and it did interupt our peaceful weekend, but I am glad I am to the point where I can leave my cell phone behind at least part of the time,and spend time with my husband. Anyone have any other tips for being able to enjoy a romantic trip with your spouse with as few interuptions as possible?