Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome to London

Ah, Heathrow. Where else can you whittle away half your life connecting to a flight in a different terminal? Not as long this time (1-1/2 hours, including 47 minutes of walking and a 17-minute bus ride) as last time (3-1/2 hours, including a     1-hour wait trapped in an underground lobby waiting for a bus to the other terminal, and TWO security checkpoints after that; throw that Evian you purchased for $3.39 at Dulles right down the drain). 

Ah, Heathrow. Where else can you walk for half an hour without finding a restroom?
Only ten more minutes when you spot this sign! How do the elderly and infirm survive airports?

Heathrow is a shopper's haven--if you want to plunk down big bucks. Where else can you buy diamond earrings and watches between planes? 
Well, maybe Paris or Singapore.

Still an hour to wait after finally wending my winding way to Terminal 3. Try in some Gucci shades, anyone?

Or just find a comfortable spot to rest the knees and ponder the indignities of flying. And massage the black circles left over from a too-brief nap on the overnight flight.
British Airways is a dream compared to US airlines. Leg room, smiling attendants, and a mini toothbrush on every seat. I had a whole row to myself.

But. The armrests don't go up all the way!
So walk the endless halls of Heathrow, gazing longingly at the door to the World Club Lounge, settling for the crowded waiting room designated for the poor and hungry, wishing mightily for a quiet room and Serta Comfort Rest.

Ah, Heathrow. First leg complete.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Still Blue Maryland Morning

Climb aboard! Pope has toiled every day to fix and clean and upgrade Echo II. Time to test 'er out on another exciting adventure on Chesapeake Bay.
Two weeks ago, I survived an overnight sail across the bay to meet up and raft up with the Annapolis Sailing Club. Blessings: breeze, not too hot, no rain, few mosquitoes, potluck on shore, friendly crowd.
This week, we headed up the western shore to visit old friends who inhabit an island paradise north of the Bay Bridge.
Conditions were perfect for a gentle sail with Pope's favorite toy--an asymmetrical spinnaker. 

As per our usual pattern, Pope sailed/drove while I napped (or meditated or read or did crossword puzzles or prepared lunch).
We docked at Gibson Island Yacht Squadron, a private club tucked into a cove of the Magotjy River, which has the cleanest facilities on the east coast
Headed up the hill on the lovingly tended island to visit our friends the Hopkins at their impressive estate overlooking the Bay.

After an evening of fun and frolic--actually an amazing dinner and heated discussion about the Republican debate, influenced by too many Planters Punches--stumbled back to the dock to be rocked to sleep.
On waters becalmed by still blue skies, motored out to the Bay and steered for home. A pleasant breeze in the afternoon allowed us to complete the journey under respectable full sail.

To Pope's astonishment, I enjoyed the sail.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Clear Blue North Carolina Day

It ain't France. It ain't the Bahamas. But, friends, it's a lovely week here in the Outer Banks--warm but dry, with blue skies, drifting clouds, gentle breeze, warmer-than-normal ocean temperature of 79 degrees.
Yesterday I tested my inflatable "boogie board," surfing the waves as they crested over the sandbar 50 yards offshore. Again and again I rode the surf to shore on my bright yellow surface-submarine, exhilarating in each successful run.
Then, as the waves calmed, settled into a comfy beach chair with a good book: "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Piccoult.
I am staying in the Barrier Island Station resort in Duck, North Carolina, as I have done almost every September for more than 20 years. There was a lively crowd here until Wednesday, two days after Labor Day, when 90 packed up their SUVs and left. Back to work? Kids back to school? Or just the threat of impending thunderstorms?  In the end, it only rained for a few hours during the night.

Now there's only a smattering of beachgoers, me, two pelicans, and the mighty ocean. A fisherman yesterday mentioned seeing a fin in the water. So today, with few people around and no lifeguard, I skip the swimming, and walk the beach.
It takes me 2 1/2 minutes to walk from the apartment over the sand dunes to the ocean--375 steps. It's 20 minutes to the Corps of Engineers' research pier and back, gripping the sand with each step.
The sand is warm, soft. I revel in the chance to feel wind on my face and walk among willets and sandpipers. Beige, almost-transparent sand crabs scatter like flies on a picnic table when you wave your hand. I search the piles of gravel for whole scallop shells that survived the pounding of the surf. Dig in my toes and let the saltwater wash over them.
Late this afternoon, a troupe of dolphins put on a show. Act I: a dozen or more, feeding offshore, gracefully arcing over the chop, the setting sun glinting off their fins. Occasionally a mad dash across the surface, throwing up spray--predator or prey? Could this be what the fisherman saw?
Act II: "splooshing" awkwardly over the sandbar into the deep trough closer to shore. So close. The small crowd of spectators somehow swells--how? Did they hear about it on the radio? 

Act III: a more violent feeding frenzy. Groups of dolphins now, thrashing hard. Broaching the surface in pairs, nipping perhaps, tangling in each other's tails. Competing? 
The curtain falls. Sunset.
One more day in this seaside paradise before my return to the hustle and bustle of home. Go gently, mighty ocean. Go gently, and grace other shores.