Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Newport, Rhode Island--this is what I imagined Cape Cod to Look Like

George and I headed to Newport to see sights.  It is a beautiful day to tour around town.  Newport is at the tip of an island.  We start at the Visitor Center and get a CD audio tour of the island.  This audio tour gives us details about Newport that we would not have known otherwise. 


The tour takes us along Ocean Drive.  The coastal scenery is nothing short of spectacular! 

Our first stop on the tour was to point to watch massive schooners and yachts sailing to their own adventures.
We stopped at Brenton Point State Park.  We walked down a few steps to get a closer look at the powerful waves beating on the rocks. 

There are park benches sat along the shore.  For years I have used the term “Perfect Moment”.  For me a Perfect Moment is one that allows me to sit and enjoy the beautiful landscape that God has provided for my personal enjoyment. It is a place that I am able to enjoy and forget the world around.  I am able to immerse myself in the beauty—setting everything else aside.  I love taking advantage of a place that allows time to “stand still” for just a moment.

We stayed at the state park shore for over an hour.  Sitting on a bench, we took in the sights and sounds in front of us. 

In the mid-nineteenth century, wealthy southern planters built summer “cottages” on Bellevue Avenue in Newport.  These cottages were amazing.  Some of the homes were the traditional Cape Cod style architecture and some were grand mansions that had obvious England influence.  Newport became a home to opulent mansions for the Vanderbilt and the Astor families and several other families.

This house looked like the ideal setting for a glass of ice tea and a visit with a close friend.

The Hammersmith Farm was the mansion that Jackie Kennedy and family lived when she married JFK.  It is said JFK used the farm as his “Summer White House”.  Several times he flew into the farm on the presidential helicopter landing on the front lawn. 

Several of these “cottages” were converted into academic buildings, because of high tax bills.  

Newport is also the home of the Naval Academy during the Civil War.

I was excited to be able to see St. Mary’s Church in Newport.  This church was the church John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married in 1953.

After the end of a great day, we head back home.  A day like this fills my heart.  I love the spending time in this beautiful treasure that God has given us and it is better when I share it with the love of my life.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cape Cod Whale Watching Adventure—Fabulous!!!

The weather was perfect today.  We left our campground in Sandwich, MA headed to the Hyannis Whale Watching company; about 30 minutes away.  We wanted to allow extra time in case we get lost or have trouble finding parking.  Ok, to be honest George and I are very time compulsive and we both HATE to be late.  As it turns out we left at a perfect time.  We easily found the location and parking was a breeze… albeit a $15/car parking breeze.

Within 15 minutes people were lining up to get on the boat.  45 minutes before we were scheduled to pull away from the dock, they started boarding.  We were thrilled to get great seats on the top level next to the edge.  George was glad to have a seat under an awning that would provide some shade for him and I was glad to have a seat in the sun with a fabulous view.  (Not that there was a bad view on this boat.)

A naturalist served as our tour guide for the cruise.  He offers fun facts throughout the tour about the area and whales and a variety of wildlife.

We travel about an hour before the captain slows the boat because “blow holes have been spotted”.  We were told to watch for the “B’s”:  Birds, Bubbles, Blows (from blow holes) and Body parts outside the water.

We had been told that whales do not punch a time clock and we will be lucky if we see whales.  Everyone on the boat was anxious to catch the first glimpse of a whale, or even a really big fish. 

As if almost on cue, passengers start pointing.  There are whales surfacing all around us.  We start to see whale blows.

It is shocking how fast the whales move—they come out of the water often before we can focus our camera.  Some of the photos that I am using on this post are from the internet.  Every picture that I have used is an example of whales activities that we saw but our camera was not able to capture the sight.

We can hardly believe our eyes—it seems as if whales are all around us. 

Today we are seeing Humpback Whales.  We see large whales and several whale calves.  These adult whales are generally 35-50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons.
These ginormous mammals are only mid-size—from a whale perspective.   Crazy! 
Humpback whales get their name “Humpback” from a small hump on their back.
Humpback whales have a black body with white flippers.  Several times on our journey we are excited to the whales we are visiting smacking their white flippers (fins) on the water.  When the fins hit the water we are able to hear a loud crash sound.  The Humpback whale flippers can reach up to 15 feet. 
The back tail is called a fluke.  A Humpback Whale fluke will vary in color from all white to all black and everything between.  Every whale tale is unique to the whale.  Our naturalist explained they are able to identify individual whales by the fluke. 
In addition to the different color patterns, there are of course gashes and scratches.
The whales were so close to our boat we were able to see the scratches on their bodies. 

Humpback Whales are Baleen Whales—whales without teeth.  These baleen plates are on the side of their mouths.  It allows the whales to scoop their fish dinner without getting a mouth full of water.  

We saw groups of whales feeding.  Some working together and some appear to be working on their own.   Before a single whale or a group of whale surfaces; we see an area of bubbles and a section of water turns an aqua marine color. 
Every time we saw the bubbles or water color change—we knew something exciting was going to happen.  The whales would surface with their mouths open scooping up their fish buffet.
We stayed and watched these whales for almost 2 hours!  It is FABULOUS!!! 
I know they were feeding, they have to eat tons of food every day.  But it was as if these whales were putting on a “wild life show” just for us.  They seemed to be so playful.     

In some cases they almost seemed to taunting each other.  One whale would smack its tail on the water surface and another whale would follow.  This act of “tail smacking” is called tail lobbing.

When any part of a whales’ body comes out of the water it is called “breaching”.  We were told we were seeing more breaches than they had seen all season.  It seemed as if some of the whales took flight out of the water.  As they project their body out of the water; they roll and land like thunder back into the water.  It is almost unimaginable that 40 tons goes airborne so easily. 
Our tour ends 4 hours later.  We were all thrilled with our experience.  I could have never imagined the amount of whale activity we would see and how close they would come to us.  

Several times I was able to see directly into a whales’ mouth as they were eating.

We will all remember this day forever. 

Words are not adequate to describe the excitement we felt seeing these magnificent creatures.  It is another example of God’s love for us that He would provide such beauty for us to behold.  At the end of the day, we are all reminded how blessed we are to have this full time RV lifestyle that allows for adventures like Whale Watching.  


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Old Fort Niagara—over 300 years of History

We are now traveling with our friends Tom and Sandy Burke.  We are especially excited about traveling with them through New England.  Tom is a history buff and has been a great resource to have as we travel through these historic areas.

Fort Niagara does a great job having period “actors” walking and performing throughout the fort. 

We were able to watch a music demonstration.  It was so interesting to find out that musicians start as young as 11 years old.  They are one of the most protected positions in an army.  They also have a high rank and have a higher rate of pay than a regular soldier—so needless to say once they start their role as musician, they do not give up that job.

The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years.  It was occupied by France, Great Britain and finally the United States. 

Because the fort is located at the mouth of the Niagara River; it was an important area to control.

The French originally established the post in 1679 and then built the “French Castle” in 1726.    This building is the focal point of the fort and still stands today.  Britain took control of the fort in 1759 during the French and Indian War and held this control through the American Revolution.   The United States got control of the fort in 1796. 

The fort was captured by the British during the War of 1812 and held that control until 1815. The fort was a training station and barracks from the Civil War, through both World Wars and until the final army units were pulled out in 1963. 
Fort Niagara is one of the longest continuously run military bases in the United States.  The Coast Guard maintains presence at “The Bottoms” in Fort Niagara.
There was a small canyon fire exhibit. 
There was also a musket firing.  The soldier called George up to help with his demonstration.  Explaining the reason soldiers wore red and not camouflages colors. Red coats allow a solider to be seen easily by their fellow soldiers—so they don’t shoot their own.
It was a great day… perfect temperature, sunny and a slight breeze.  

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