Summer Travel III – V

Lots of travel this time of year. We just got back from a cruise with Jeannie’s family. It was her mother and father’s 50th wedding anniversary and they wanted to take all the kids and grandkids. We’re very happy for them and feel quite lucky both sets of our parents have made it this far.

Rewinding a bit, the weekend after Buffalo we went up to Albany to visit with Martin. He’s building a massive deck out back of his house, and it was about half done the day we were out there. We left Lizzy to stay a spell and help out Kathleen, but were all reuinted the following weekend. We went camping with Martin, Kathleen and their kids, Nick and Lisa and their kids, and a whole bunch of Nick’s extended family. I think we had eight campsites. I always feel like camping is a lot of work, especially the preparation, but then once we get there it’s always such great fun. Hiking, making fires, sleeping in tents, good food and drink, and all that. This year it rained both nights. Not enough to stop us from doing stuff and having fun, but everything was wet when packed up, so we had to roll it out to dry after we got home.

Of course camping isn’t for everyone. Some people are more cruise people. I’ll admit I’m not one of them. I had my doubts beforehand. I didn’t want to be stuck on a boat with nothing to do and/or seasick the whole time. But all was well and it was a great time.

It was a 4 day cruise, which was enough for me, and we had a cabin with a balcony, which was nice. The ship itself was really neat. It’s the Carnival Splendor, which is the 46th largest cruise ship in the world today (it was in the top ten when it was new just 8 years ago) and about as big as can be and still fit thru the Panama Canal. It’s 950 feet long and 16 or 18 stories high above the waterline. Taking off from NY harbor it barely fit under the Verrazano Bridge. Less then 20 feet to spare! Everything inside the boat was a bit smaller than normal, but very efficiently designed so you didn’t mind. I had less than inch clearance under most doorways, and very little shoulder room.

Once we were away there wasn’t much to see other than the sea. We saw dolphins twice. Once was first thing in the morning, six or so of ’em playing in the ship’s wake, which was delightful, and later there were dozens of ’em, but not as close. We saw whales too, one evening watching the sun go down, and some lovely sunsets. But it was mostly overcast so not much in the way of stars. The port of call was St. John New Brunswick, a nothing-ish town that was a cross between St. Catherine and Seattle in tone. We took a hike and saw the local gorge, where the famous Bay of Fundy tides ran upriver and created interesting whirlpools. We had lobster rolls for lunch at a pub, saw a little whaling museum, and the kids got souvenirs. The terrain itself was interesting and weather was much colder in the bay of Fundy than near home. All in all quite charming.

On the boat there were lots of bars and restaurants, pools and hot tubs, movies and even a casino. Even though there were thousands of people it didn’t feel cramped. The food was really, really good, and there was lots of it in all varieties, from buffets to big dinner banquets. The whole thing really well run, very impressive. Lizzy got into playing the various trivia contests they had, and won a golden “ship on a stick” trophy. The main attraction, of course was just hanging out with the family. Alot like camping, but less forest, more ocean, and less work. It’s great to see all the nieces and nephews for an extended spell. They had a great time all together. All but two are now into middle school and high school, and becoming such interesting people. Of course Denis and Sylvia, who’ve have been on lots of cruises, had a great time too. This was the way they wanted to celebrate.

Next up: Ohio!

College Art

This is the time of year when I usually organize my studio, throw out a bunch of old origami, and find a place to put my new origami paper. This year along the way I found a cache of art that I made in college. Having recently visited my Alma Mater, and recalling times there penniless and free, I thought I’d give it a look. Some were graphic design projects for classes, along with album covers and posters for my band, T-shirt designs (Campus Crusade for Cthulhu, UBCon ’90) and things like that. Others were from a drawing course I took, still life subjects, human figures, landscapes and architecture. Some were pretty good, so I wound up photographing a few of them. I might publish a gallery of them eventually. Meanwhile, here’s one, a 10-minute-or-so sketch looking out the window of the Bethune building (which is apparently no longer owned by the university) into the back parking lot on a cold, overcast winter day. You can see the tower of Hayes Hall in the distance thru the trees.

Summer Travel II

Just got back from a trip upstate to visit family and friends. Saw my parents and my brother Martin and his family. Had some BBQ and took in the fireworks show at the local park on the 4th. Saw Denis and Sara, whose pool is broken, and then Larry and Jackie, who are on their way to Vegas and San Francisco to celebrate their anniversary. Nick and Lisa and their kids were in town too, so we all went up to Niagara Falls together. I haven’t done the falls in a few years, although I grew up near there and know the place well. We used to ride our bikes up there before I could drive. Anyway, we did the Maid of the Mist and trekked all the way out to Terrapin point, and ended up at the bar there. Great day for it.

Next day we went on a tour of SUNY at Buffalo. Lizzy is going into 11th grade in the fall, and so is Nick’s oldest son so it’s time to start looking at colleges. Jeannie, Nick and I all attended UB a long time ago, and Jeannie and I met and fell in love there, so the tour brought back alot of memories as well as alot of comments on everything that’s changed with the campus since that time. Lizzy seemed favorably impressed by the whole thing, and is starting to think more about what she wants to do with her life and what it’ll take to get there.