Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #82 …And A Time To Every Purpose Under Heaven

Ah, the magic of flight. To arise into the heavens nestled in the belly of a behemoth far too large for such an unnatural act. To gaze below at the cottony billows obscuring any view of the recognizable humdrum left behind. To arrive at a destination hundreds of miles away in a mere few hours. Yes, the magic of flight—a thing of the past.

I can wax poetic about it because we no longer fly when we can avoid it. Somehow the poetry got lost in the delays, searches, crowds, and general hassles of flying. These days we much prefer the leisurely mode of auto travel. Not that driving isn’t without its hassles—gas prices, finding a decent and affordable motel, too much fast food. But today’s sweeping vistas of Americana stretching across the length of southern New York gave us a visual feast unlike anything we could have experienced from an airplane. The colors of the season were everywhere—trees in shades of pumpkin, cranberry, carrot, pecan, and acorn squash; lime green fields dotted with raisin-like livestock; hay bales covered so as to resemble giant marshmallows; hillside and valley barns painted in hues of wine and cream; evergreens standing sentinel over branches laid bare and awaiting a new spring-green wardrobe. To say it was magnificent would be to risk award-winning understatement. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” was the phrase that came to mind.

Fall color
Northeastern fall color

As planned, we left Indianapolis yesterday. This evening we’ve enjoyed the company of cousins Ann and Warren and their daughter Donna in Massachusetts. No matter the separation of time and distance, family bonds remain constant and firm. We’re grateful for their hospitality and support.

In our cruising travels we often go in search of history at our various stopovers. This coming week will be a time of exploring our personal histories. Today we revisited Worcester State Hospital where Jim was in residency (professionally, not personally!) when we were dating. Surprisingly, the hospital seemed to be still open and functioning, although we thought it had closed years ago. How strange it was, though, to drive past the stately old building that Jim called home for a year and to see it boarded and fenced, apparently condemned. Several other early-century buildings, window boards well-aged, bespoke of a mental health era long past, and rightly so. We couldn’t help wondering about the future of the beautiful architecture, especially since the buildings appear to have been deserted for decades already.

Worcester State Hospital
Worcester State Hospital

Another look into our past took us to Andover-Newton Theological School, Jim’s seminary alma mater. Once again the passage of time was evident in the buildings, with new architecture married to old. The most striking addition to the time-worn edifices was a new chapel which looked out of place to our eyes. The modern glass-and-marble structure presented a stark contrast to the Georgian-style buildings erected in the early days of the seminary.

We also drove into my home town of Dedham and past the house in which I grew up, the elementary school I attended, and the church where we were married. Everything in the neighborhood looked vital and thriving—a treat to my eyes.

This evening was the event that occasioned our trip to Massachusetts—my (Alice’s) 40th high school reunion. What a delight to associate once again with those with whom I spent much of my youth. Although I felt challenged in recognizing many of my erstwhile classmates, the years did little to obscure my closest friends of that era. With Mary-Anne, Jack, Tim, and many others I recalled the joys and trials of our teen years, and I enjoyed learning about their journeys since those days. Unquestionably, it was an evening well spent, and I fervently hope that another 40 years won’t pass before we meet again.

The 40th was a year late

On another drive through Dedham we observed a sparkling new middle school. Its excessive size stands as testimony to the vibrancy and growth of the local community. The high school, however, appears to have undergone no changes in the last 35+ years. Perhaps the interior has been remodeled in ways that don’t show on the exterior.

We next traveled into the heart of Boston to visit my undergrad alma mater, Boston University. Once again, change was only superficial. While the union building and library had been updated, the balance of the campus appeared as I remembered it. My school in particular, the School of Fine and Applied Arts, has been renamed the College of Fine Arts, but the building has been left largely unaltered. The entry way was quite attractive with artwork (presumably by students) adorning the walls and sculpture stands, but I was astonished to see that the same dungeon-like maze of classrooms and rehearsal halls (with the same prison-gray décor) still exists today. Perhaps I shouldn’t have ignored so many pleas for alumni support!

Boston University
The signs and ivy were new

After a night in Danbury, CT, we headed for Bucks County, PA, in search of Pineway Stables, where in his youth Jim used to ride on a regular basis. As we approached Smith Rd., Pineway’s old address, Jim was apprehensive about finding the correct location of the long-closed stables. After traveling up and down Smith Rd. several times, and also checking out some connecting roads for familiarity, he decided that a relatively new dam and reservoir stood on Pineway’s land, and that the buildings had been long ago destroyed. With sadness Jim looked out over the reservoir, recalling the pleasant days he had spent at Pineway. Still unsure, however, we stopped at another horse farm to inquire about Pineway’s fate. The gentleman there was reasonably certain that the reservoir had not swallowed up a horse farm, but he referred us to the Smith family—residents for generations—back on Smith Rd. for more accurate information. Mr. Smith told us that his family had owned the land under the reservoir, and, no indeed, there had never been a horse farm there. He suggested we take another look back at the other end of Smith Rd. at a house and barn that somewhat fit Jim’s description. So after maybe the sixth or seventh time down the road we tentatively drove into the driveway of that homestead. The excitement in Jim’s “This is it!” made the time spent searching most worthwhile. He realized that he hadn’t initially recognized the location because of the trees obscuring the house and a new house obscuring the barn. The current resident graciously allowed us to look around and reminisce. Jim was able to identify the house, the stables, the barn, and the location of all the paddocks. The stables and barn are used only for storage by the present resident, and he reported that the stable was used as a dog kennel before he came on the scene. While it would have been breath-taking to find a working horse farm on Pineway’s old site, we were able nevertheless to drive away with a sense of fulfillment in having unearthed this piece of Jim’s past.

Jim at Pineway

A drive past Jim’s old home in Philadelphia wasn’t quite so rewarding, however. The neighborhood appeared to be in decline, and the house looked somewhat neglected. We didn’t linger.

We started the day with a visit to the University of Pennsylvania where Jim earned his undergraduate degree. Although Penn is similar to BU in being a big-city campus, the two schools are markedly different in design. BU mostly stretches along the length of Commonwealth Ave., so cars and traffic are constant accompaniments to most campus strolls. Much of the huge Penn campus, however, is secluded and cut off from auto traffic, allowing a sense of peaceful isolation from the city’s clamor. Some of the seclusion—not to mention the sprawl—of the campus weren’t there during Jim’s tenure, though, so it took him some time to get his bearings and recognize anything familiar. Once again, the taste of the past was sweet.

We spent the balance of the day exploring Baltimore, largely in search of dockage facilities. We hope to spend some time there next summer, so we wanted to do some advance planning.

After a day of driving we arrived in North Myrtle Beach, SC, to visit with another high school classmate who didn’t make it to the reunion. I hadn’t seen Kathy in close to 40 years, but we reminisced and reconnected as though the years had never passed. She and her husband Bill are semi-retired and have just moved into a beautiful second home in North Myrtle Beach. In fact, we were their first guests! We were deeply grateful for their hospitality, and we plan to stay in touch. Maybe we can one day reciprocate.

Well, there’s always a first time for everything, right? We did something today we’ve never done before. There were plenty of restaurants along I-95 at lunchtime, but we longingly recalled the extraordinary meal we had at the Pirate’s House in Savannah just about two years ago. So we decided to keep driving past our usual lunch time, depart from I-95, and drive into Savannah just to see if we could eat there again. We enjoyed the quick review of the city as we drove into town, but our only destination was the Pirate’s House. It did not disappoint. The lunch buffet was just as excellent as the first time around. Don’t miss it if you have the opportunity.

This afternoon we made another stop, this time in Brunswick, GA, again to check out the dockage conditions and amenities at Brunswick Landing Marina. We were favorably impressed with the huge and growing marina and hope to make a cruising stop there in the future.

We’re back in Florida. Our first stop in state was to visit—for probably the one and only time—our “residence” in Florida. That is to say, our mailing address—otherwise known as our mail service, St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs. For any other cruisers out there with the same address, this is where we’re neighbors.

St. Brendan's Isle
St. Brendan’s Isle

By the way, the 411 Walnut St. address isn’t on Walnut St. (You were confused about the 102, weren’t you?) When the company outgrew that building and moved, they were allowed to keep the address. Why doesn’t it work that way for the rest of us?

We arrived at Mike’s house in Sarasota this afternoon, and we’re delighted to be back with him. On the way through St. Petersburg we made a stop to check on Caloosa Spirit at the boatyard where she’s been waiting for several months. Discouragement and gloom reared their ugly heads once again. About a month ago the yard owner had called to tell us that the yard had been burglarized and our outboard had been stolen from the boat’s transom. The insurance claim and payment had been made, so all that was left was to purchase a replacement outboard. Not so much. We discovered today that the yard had been burglarized yet again, and this time Caloosa Spirit was broken into (along with numerous other boats) and our brand new stereo radio, a pair of binoculars, and some camera equipment were stolen. Aside from the expense involved (insurance coverage is uncertain), the replacement hassle seems overwhelming. The @#$% thieves broke the acrylic panel when they ripped out the stereo, so that needs to be replaced also. Well, I guess there’s always something to be thankful for. The thieves apparently weren’t bright enough to recognize the value of the far more expensive marine radios, and they didn’t bother with any of the new electronic instruments. Go figure. Anyway, it appears that Caloosa Spirit won’t be launched for a while. The project list is now significantly longer than we had planned on.

In truth, we seriously considered not mentioning the thefts in this log. We really don’t enjoy sharing the ongoing and numerous trials and tribulations that befall us in this cruising life. But because we deeply appreciate the thoughts and prayers of our readers, honesty won out. So there you have it.

After a couple of days of driving back and forth to St. Pete to work on the boat, along with time spent in running around looking for materials, we’ve started to get a few things done. Our best estimate for splash time is another couple of weeks. We’ll keep you posted.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

Posted Thursday November 8, 2007

* * *

name Remember
  Textile Help