We head to sea

This part of my blog will chronicle my adventures with my mother on a 7-day cruise on the Queen Elizabeth from New York to Southampton, England. We drove from Boston to New York on Saturday, arriving at the pier at around noon. The Queen Elizabeth was berthed right next to the aircraft carrier Intrepid, complete with the Concord and space shuttle Enterprise parked on its decks. They look small compared to this towering ocean liner. As far as I can tell this ship has 12 floors and at least 2 very fancy stairwells. We are on floor 5 on the port side with a small balcony. Just below us are the lifeboats. We’ve been given all sorts of instructions for where to go in the event of an emergency. But I plan to jump out the window and into one of these handy lifeboats. Our room is about 20 by 10 feet, with just enough room for two beds, a desk and a sofa. But It’s cozy and somehow I do not think we will be hanging out here much during our voyage on this ship with its spa, five or more restaurants, library, lounges and endless recreation areas.

The ship left the pier at 4:29 p.m. We barely noticed she was moving at first, but suddenly the shoreside cars disappeared and we ran up on deck to watch as a Moran tug helped ease the great liner out into the Hudson River. As the tug pulled away it honked four times, a high beeping sound. The Queen boomed back with a long, shuddering moan of a horn. And we were off.

Heading down the river in the afternoon sun, with a light breeze and warm sunshine, the buildings in the city sparkling in the light was glorious. An older Scottish lady had brought along her bagpipes and played on deck as we eased along. As we passed the southern end of Manhatten she played Amazing Grace, saying it was for the people who died in 9/11.

River ferries zipped back and forth below us like bugs. As we approached the Statute of Liberty off to starboard, a cloud covered just enough of the sun to create a spotlight that dramatically silouetted the statue. A rich tycoon’s massive (300-440 foot long) private yacht was moored quite close to Ellis Island, which seemed ironic to me — give me your tired, your poor, oh yea!

Next came the Veranzano Bridge, which we cleared by 89 CM, according to the captain. As the sun began to set and New York disappeared into a pink haze, a small pilot boat pulled alongside just below our room to take the pilot back into port. Once he was onboard it zoomed back behind our stern and met up with a larger pilot boat. We are headed out into to ocean, going about 18 knots. We’ll be in the Gulf of Maine for Easter.














Pulling the plug

Today I made my last half gallon of maple syrup and am going out to the woods to pull all 15 of my spiles. The recent run of cold nights and gorgeous warm days have set the sap running hard. I hate stopping production of what could be a banner harvest. but I leave Friday for 3 weeks of travelling.
This year I collected about 90 gallons of sap and made about 2 1/2 half gallons of syrup. All in all a nice harvest and more than enough to get us through the next year.