Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The America's Cup

Oracle Team USA races across the finish line.

Auld Mug - America's Cup
perpetual trophy
Don't you just love it when the underdog makes an incredible recovery to come from behind and win?  That's what happened today in San Francisco when Oracle Team USA won the 34th America's Cup race. The week began with Emirates Team New Zealand ahead 8 to 1 and finished with Oracle's amazing comeback winning eight straight races to take the cup.  The competition has been on in San Francisco Bay for the past 19 days making it the longest cup race in the 162-year history of the event.  

Sounds like we're really fans of the sport doesn't it?  The truth is that we just happened to be in San Francisco house sitting and who could pass up the opportunity to see a world class sailing race?  We have to admit though that we were pretty jazzed by the whole event and happy that the US has retained the Auld Mug for another year.  

We actually didn't know much about the America's Cup and mistakenly assumed that the races were named for our country.  A little time on the internet clued us in to the real story. There was a yacht called the America and in 1851, in a major upset, she would win against the British to earn Britain's Royal Yacht Squadron's 100 Pound Cup.  The syndicate that owned the yacht America then donated the winning trophy to the New York Yacht Club under a stipulation that the trophy be a "perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations" and the America's Cup was born.   

For the first time the America's Cup races are being held in San Francisco.

The race course stretched from the start near the Golden Gate bridge, traversing
San Francisco Bay and ending near downtown around Pier 27.

Coit Tower and ...

 the Transamerica building made for a dramatic backdrop.

Crowds stood about 8 deep at the ends of the pier and some folks opted for lounging in the sun
and watching it all on the big screens.

The media had the best seats in the house!

Team support boats, patrol boats and rescue boats made for a lot of traffic in
addition to the two team's racing boats.

Emirates Team New Zealand.

Oracle Team USA makes a sweeping turn after crossing the finish line.

The winning team.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boston's Freedom Trail

Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House are good places to begin the Freedom Trail.

Boston is a walking town and there is no better walk to begin with than the Freedom Trail.  It is promoted as "a walk through America's History" and it truly lives up to that promise.  It's not a long walk, about two and half miles, but it does take hours to do because there is much to see and absorb. 

The Freedom Trail is marked in either red brick or red paint.
Begin with a stop at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center and pick up a trail map and brochure. You won't need the map to follow the trail - it's marked by a red line from start to finish that begins just outside the visitor's center - but it will help you identify and understand the significance of the 16 sites that are some of our country's most important historical landmarks. 

While not officially on the Freedom Trail the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial is
a stop on the Black Heritage Trail.  Located at Boston Common across from the
Massachusetts State House it is a moving work worth seeing.

The Granary Burying Ground is Boston's third oldest burying ground.
John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere are but a few
of the many historic figures laid to rest here.

The King's Chapel was constructed in 1688.  Families of means purchased individual pew boxes
while slaves sat in the rear gallery and condemned prisoners sat on benches to the right for a last
sermon before hanging on Boston Common.  Next to the chapel is the oldest burying ground in
Boston where Mary Chilton, believed to be the first woman to step off of the Mayflower, rests.  

Old City Hall sits on the site of Boston's Latin School, the first
public school in America founded in 1635.
The school continues to operate but at another location.

Benjamin Franklin was a pupil at the Latin School
along with John Hancock, Samuel Adams
and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Faneuil Hall, a gift from Boston merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742, was a meeting hall and open
air market for early Bostonians.  Patriots met here to debate and rally against the Sugar Act,
the Stamp Act and the landing of British troops. The hall became known as the
Cradle of Liberty. After the war, anti-slavery speeches, temperance rallies,
the women's right's movement were all debated at Fanueil Hall. 

Faneuil Hall surrounded by modern day Boston.

No trip to Boston would be complete without a visit to Paul Revere's
house.  Built in 1680 it is Boston's oldest surviving private building.
It was from here that Paul Revere set out for his famous
midnight ride.

The Old North Church towers above Copp's Hill burying ground and
the statue commemorating Paul Revere's ride.  It was from this steeple
that two lanterns were hung on April 18, 1775 signaling the beginning of
Revere's ride - the spark that ignited the American Revolution.

The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in
the world.  She earned her nickname "Old Ironsides" during the war of 1812
when British cannonballs bounced off of her impenetrable hull.

The last stop on the Freedom Trail is the Bunker Hill Monument erected on the
site of the first major battle between the colonists and the British on June 17, 1775.
The 221 foot granite obelisk commemorates the 1400 who died in the battle
and honors the ill-equipped but determined colonists who faced the powerful British Army.

At the end of the trail in Charlestown it is a short ride on the Inner Harbor Ferry
back to Boston Long Wharf.

For information about the Freedom Trail and visiting Boston go to and

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Peggy of the Cove

One of the many beautiful views on the road to Peggy's Cove.

What is it about the sea that so inspires the creation of folklore?  Maybe it is the inherent danger of the ocean.  The sadness of sailors lost, the women who forevermore walk the widow's walk searching the sea for men who will never come home.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that for most of human history no one knew what really lay beyond the horizon and it was more comforting to make up a good tale than live with uncertainty? Whatever the reason, it is a rare seacoast town without some tale to tell and Peggy's Cove is no exception.

Hugging the eastern point of St. Margaret's Bay, Peggy's Cove feels remote, but it is only about 25 miles from the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The lore surrounding this little seaside town is centered on how it came to be called Peggy's Cove. The most romantic version tells the tale of a young girl who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck.  She had no memory of her name or of her past.  Taken in by a village family, she came to be known as Peggy of the Cove.  The simple, less colorful version, is that Peggy was simply the wife of an early settler and the town was named for her.  The pragmatic and straightforward version is that the town was named after Saint Margaret for whom the bay is named.  

Personally, we like the idea of the shipwrecked girl who found not only salvation, but a new life in a new place named just for her.

Located at the tip of the Chebucto Peninsula, Peggy's Cove has easy access to Saint Margaret's Bay.

Remnants of a time when Peggy's Cove was an active fishing area.
The little village now depends upon tourism.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse is a big draw for photographers and ...

 ...  locals boast that more photos are taken of Peggy's Cove than Niagara Falls.
Hmmm...another bit of lore?

Lobsters are a big business in this area and if you ever visit
we recommend you try the lobster rolls.

Painter and sculptor William de Garthe created this monument to Nova Scotia's
fisherman from a 100' length of rock outside his gallery in Peggy's Cove.

There isn't much beach but the rocky shoreline of Nova Scotia is breathtaking.

Peggy's Cove

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ports of Call

Sailing into Kotor, Montenegro

There are many things to research before taking a trip but it becomes especially important to do your homework when taking a cruise.  You will have hours, not days, to explore and walking down the gang plank without a plan may mean missing what you might enjoy most about a port.

There are lots of websites designed to help familiarize yourself with an area that may be one of your cruise ports of call but few that are designed specifically to maximize your minimum amount of time in port. This is why we were so jazzed to find Tom's Port Guides. (Well, actually, Colleen's savvy sister Andrea found it.) Tom's guides are packed with useful information on the many ports commonly visited by cruise lines and he is adding more ports every year. His information on transportation options in each port, walking tours, maps, GPS directions for driving yourself, photographs and practical alternatives to the cruise line's packaged excursions provide the detail you need to be able to make the most of your time in each port.  All of the information in the guides can be downloaded to your IPAD, Kindle, or other Wifi enabled device to take along with you for easy access during your trip. Next time you are taking a cruise we highly recommend stopping by Tom's Port Guides before you set sail.