Luisa the Green Sea Turtle

It’s out! It’s out!

Book 01

The book that started as a whisper and became a dream is now reality. Here’s the email I sent friends this morning:

I am ecstatic and overwhelmed. I am also in a bit of shock. The book I ran through my brain several years ago is PUBLISHED!!!

The book is Luisa the Green Sea Turtle, a bilingual “read-to” book for 1st to 3rd graders (although my grandniece who just finished 1st grade can read much of it on her own.) It’s about Luisa who gets trapped, faces being turned into soup, but is set free.

It’s available on Amazon at this link:

Or, you can simply log onto Amazon, enter ‘emilie vardaman’ and get to the book that way.

If you have young ones in your life or are simply inclined to make a purchase, I’m asking folks to do so on Monday, July 2. If impossible, try to do so on the 3rd.

 The idea is if a lot of people buy on the same day, the book goes, however briefly, to the top of the sales chart and then is closer to the top of a search page at Amazon. So if you’d like to make a purchase, please do it on July 2. 

THANK YOU!!! 

Luisa’s illustrator (my super duper fabulous #1 niece Jessie Stout) and I are so excited we’re  having champagne! We’re 1700 miles apart but coordinating the champagne.

Emilie

 

Today

I don’t do poetry. Except when I do.

We were gathered today
Talking, writing, laughing
When the text came
A shooting today
In her school
In her classroom
Last day of class, a joyous event 
Presentations, posters, final projects
Then he stood, fired
And they fell
Two injured
Two dead
Two more hang on
Lockdown and chaos
Students running, hiding
Classrooms empty
Fleeing building
Hands in  air
Suspect in custody

Male, again
White, again
Lives destroyed

The Day I Met the Feds

A memory from twenty or so years ago.

 

“I’m going to grab my laptop and head out in a few minutes,” I shouted to Rowena. I always said goodbye to her, the languages department secretary at Cochise College, Douglas Campus.

“No you’re not. Come look at this.”

I headed into the office next to mine. Sitting on Rowena’s desk was an open box, a white powder sprinkled around it on her desk, her lap, even on her face.

“What in the world?”

“I don’t know, but I called Security. We’re not supposed to leave the building.”

It was the height of the anthrax scare, spring 2002, and the deadly poison had been sent to Democratic Senators as well as others, killing several and infecting many. Although this white powder we’d received wasn’t the same as the more coarse, tannish anthrax, it was still considered suspicious and had to be investigated.

We watched out the windows as campus Security joined Douglas policemen to string yellow Crime SceneDo Not Cross tape around the building. Six of us were confined until … well, we didn’t know until when. 

Until whatever happened next.

It wasn’t long. Within a few minutes, a Security officer opened the outside door and called into us to come board the van. We’d be driven across campus to the gym, enter through a back door, and head to the showers where soaps and shampoos awaited us.

As we walked out, we saw a small crowd of campus staff and teachers, held a good distance away. Many were in tears.

They’d been told nothing, but seeing the tape they’d assumed someone had been murdered. They shouted to us as we went to the van. What happened? Was someone killed? Who is it?

We shouted back that no, no one had been killed, but Rowena had opened a box filled with a white powder, and the entire building might be contaminated. 

We climbed into the van. The driver was the campus Dean, Chuck Hoyack. He’d volunteered to drive us.

I told Chuck I needed my computer. I’d spent days preparing a PowerPoint slideshow on my office computer. I’d transferred the presentation to my laptop and I was ready to leave.

In the morning, four of us were due to drive to Las Vegas to present at a conference. I had to have that laptop!

Chuck told me I couldn’t have it, that no one could go into the building. He dropped us off at the back door to the gym, and we filed out, me still insisting I had to have the laptop.

In the shower room, a woman gave us clipped instructions. 

Strip. Put clothing into a bag. 

Seal the bag. Write your names on the sticker on the bag with the pen provided. 

Shower and scrub from head to toe. Do it again. 

And no, there was no lotion. 

We were to put on white jumpsuits and plastic flip-flops afterwards. The outfit, other than the flip-flops, looked like something a scientist would wear to avoid contamination.

We all scrubbed twice, toweled off, and stepped into our white one-size-fits-no-one jumpsuits and flip-flops. We walked across the drive to the administrative building and someone told us to wait until called, that we’d have to give our story. 

We sat. 

We waited. 

Questioning went pretty quickly. I think there must have been two interrogators. And they weren’t cops. 

When I sat, an obviously government guy flashed his credentials and introduced himself. His badge read “FBI”.

FBI? I was immediately puzzled at their arriving so quickly. Rowena had made the call maybe thirty minutes, max, before they’d arrived on campus. 

Where in the world were these guys stationed? They couldn’t even have flown in from Tucson so quickly. Sierra Vista? Maybe Bisbee! 

I regret I didn’t ask.

I don’t recall the questions or my answers, but do I know I told him I hadn’t witnessed Rowena opening the box, that I’d only walked into the building to gather my things to leave.

I was out of the interview in under ten minutes. 

The woman who’d given us instructions in the shower room gave us receipts for our bagged clothes. She said we’d get the clothing back once the investigation was complete and/or the clothing deemed safe. 

She cautioned us to go to an emergency room if we had any strange reactions. I assumed she meant other than my raw dry skin that was already itchy. 

Or is that a reaction??!! No. I know how itchy my skin is when it’s dry. 

She then said told us to leave.

By this time, I knew I was really late leaving. I’d been pretty late before the fiasco began. So I took a moment to call home and let my then-husband know I’d been delayed and had quite a story to share when I got home.

I don’t recall how I got my purse. I must have, though, because my keys had been in it and I know I drove home. Plus, I had ID and such when we got to Vegas. 

Then, as I left, a little bonus: Chuck handed me my laptop bag and told me NOT to tell anyone he’d gone in. He then headed off to the showers to double scrub.

And that was the end of it. No one ever told us what the white powder was, only that it wasn’t dangerous. They never told us if they’d tracked down the person who’d sent the box. We did get our clothing back a few months later, however. And the Vegas trip and presentation were a success.

Bisbee B.R.A.T.S

Who goes to a rolling art car parade, fully intending to write a blog post, and gets there without a camera? Apparently I do, so these photos were taken with my cell phone, an old iPhone with a not-so-good camera. Sorry they’re blurry.

The Bisbee Rolling Arts Transport Society (B.R.A.T.S) holds a parade each year. I think the only rules are to be creative and use no mechanization.

First, a few people walking.

And then some more walking plus some rolling things. Most in this group were part of a penguin contingent.

Now here are this year’s cars. Colonel Sanders sat in his bucket and tossed chicken feathers.

More!

Vince even rolled along in his wheelchair.

Here is the last photo, a Sandhills Crane. The photo I took during the parade had its head cut off.

How “Luisa” Came to Be

I met Cosme in Bahía Kino five-and-a-half years ago. He worked for Prescott College’s Kino Bay campus. His job was to drive students to study sites, take them out in the college’s boats, (pangas), and also maintain the vehicles and boats.

He’d been a fisherman for years, as many young, healthy, strong men there are. But he got hired away from fishing by the college.

Cosme did turtle tagging on the side, and the college supported his efforts by allowing him to use one of their pangas. I asked to go out with him one day, and that began an activity I continue still.

PANGA AT SUNSET

A panga at sunset

Bisbee friend Cinda was joining me. We swung by my ”brother” Roberto’s restaurant and ordered two dozen burritos for the following morning. The next day we rose early, well before dawn, on a cool March morning. We dressed in layers knowing the day would heat up. Our packs held hats, sunscreen, and plenty of water. We headed to Roberto’s for the burritos just after 6:30 and then went out to the estuary (estero) to meet up with Cosme and his brother, Pepe, before seven, at dawn. 

We left my car parked on the beach.

parked on beach

My trusty RAV, Lucille

We climbed into the panga, and Cosme headed out to the middle of the estuary’s waters. There we dropped a fishing net attached to buoys. The net line was four feet tall – just about the depth of the water – and around eighty feet long. After that, Cosme took us on a brief tour of the estero.

Heading out

Heading out

We saw egrets, blue-footed boobies, herons, and osprey, and I got a good look at my first green heron We also saw mangroves, and tiny islands that existed only at medium to low tide. We got out on one of the islands to roam a bit. 

EGRET

Egret

osprey

Osprey

I asked about the turtles. If they were caught in our net, wouldn’t they drown? Cosme explained that a turtle can stay under water for about four hours, but he planned to be back at the net in about two hours. 

When we got back to the net, we had a turtle! The men hauled her in and got her into the panga. Cosme had me cover her eyes with a damp towel. Like many animals, if they can’t see, they don’t panic so much. The thrashing turtle, all 180+ pounds of her, settled down once her face was covered.

Getting turtle into boat                                          Pepe getting a turtle into the boat

Cosme then showed us how to remove the barnacles attached to her shell and head. He said he’d seen two terrible situations with barnacles on turtles. One was when was a turtle had a barnacle growing over her mouth. She could eat only with half a mouth, and he felt she was quite malnourished and underweight. The second instance was a barnacle covering most of a turtle’s eye. He was able to safely remove both. 

barnacles 2

A turtle with barnacles, thankfully not covering an eye

We recorded placement of each barnacle on a chart. Every turtle had her own chart, and yes, all the ones we’ve netted have been females. Males head into the ocean when they hatch and never return to land. Females return only to lay eggs. Likely the ones we caught over the years were in the neighborhood to lay eggs, though some could have been there for the sea grasses they enjoy eating. 

We later brought this turtle and two others to shore. We measured each one – her length and width, and length of tail, and recorded the information. Cosme weighed each big girl and had me write it down. Then we tagged each one, noting her tag number on her chart. and released them back to the sea.

measure turtle me

Me measuring a turtle, her face still covered

COSME WEIGHS

Cosme weighing, Pepe reading the scale

One day, I asked Cosme if he’d become concerned with turtles since working for Prescott College. As it turned out, it was the other way around. It was his interest that got him hired. And he proceeded to tell me the story of how he became interested in turtles and then, as a fisherman, one who’d once enjoyed turtle soup quite regularly, began working to save them.

I remember thinking at the time, Wow. That’s a good children’s book!

The idea rolled around in my head for a little while, and then I sat down to write the story. Several revisions later, some inspired by friends who read it and one inspired by my then five-year-old grand niece, I had a final draft.

I sent it to my friend Teri, a professional translator in Hermosillo.

But I sat on it for many months. Then I sent it to my niece Jessie, who draws quite well. She sent me back a sample drawing and I fell in love with it. 

It took Jessie quite a while since she worked full time and helped do some child care on weekends, but she finally had drawings for the whole book. The drawings and their locations had all been determined by my grand niece, Aenea.

#3 p 5 Luisa_eating

Jessie’s drawing of Luisa eating

So I had it all. But I sat on it again, for about ten months. The only thing remaining to be done was create a map that showed Luisa’s route from Baja California to Sonora, yet I sat. Insecurity, I imagine.

Finally, one day I put an entry in my calendar for the following day: Do the damn book.

And I did. I made the map, printed photocopies, colored it in, drew the route, then photographed it. I organized all the photos and emailed the whole to Debora, the woman who lays out books for friends of mine and, now, for me.

#2 p 2 MAP

The dashed line shows a typical route for turtles headed to Kino

And here we are, two months later. Luisa the Green Sea Turtle, a bilingual read-to book, is on Amazon, sitting there waiting to be purchased. It is, basically, Cosme’s story come to storybook. I am forever indebted to Cosme, Pepe, their cousin Matilde, and all the tortugueros of Tortugueros de las Californias, an organization that does tagging, like us, and more. Some locations rescue and rehab injured turtles. Most, including folks at Kino, protect turtle nests. 

BOOK

Five years ago, many Kino residents couldn’t remember the last time they’d seen a turtle nest on the beach. Last summer, the town rejoiced in the seven nests that were faithfully monitored. Townsfolk turned out to watch the “eruption”, the time baby turtles emerge from the sand.

And I am a small part of all of this!!

Interested in reading Luisa the Green Sea Turtle? Here’s the link (it may not be live – I don’t know how to add them into WordPress, so copy and paste!):

 

 

 

 

Living in Luxembourg: A True Tale of (mis)Adventure

Well, apparently I live in Luxembourg.

Not right now, actually, since I seem to have just returned. But I’ve been a resident there for about a week. Without my knowledge, I might add.

My sudden departure began when I filled out forms with Createspace, the company that does book publishing for Amazon. I’d written my first book and was ready to publish it. To work with them, I had to set up an account. I dutifully filled out my name, address, banking information, and SSN. I signed it electronically and was done.

Except I wasn’t.

I must have typed something incorrectly because Createspace told me the IRS thinks I live in Luxembourg. But I didn’t know this since I hadn’t logged back into my account. There was no reason to. I believed I’d completed my mission.

But apparently I chose a good county, in some ways, to flee to. It seems more expats live there than in any other European nation. Still, I’d have preferred Spain or Italy.

It was just this morning, around 6, that I learned where I was living. Debora Lewis, the woman who laid out my book and does all the technical work regarding uploading and and such, said when she went through Createspace to do it, they told her she couldn’t because I hadn’t finished setting up my out-of-country account.

Well, she is out of country. She’s in Canada. I, to my best knowledge, am right here in Arizona. But not according to the IRS.

I wrote to Createspace. No resolution. So I asked for a callback, and wow! A man named Paul called me immediately. 

I explained the problem. “I’ve never heard of such a situation,” he said. He had me fill out the Createspace form again. I’d already tried that and been stopped because I couldn’t continue without providing the information about my Luxembourg residency. 

He walked me through it but it seems I was still overseas. He was mystified. He put me on hold to talk with a few higher-up folks. When he returned, he apologized and said I had to take it up with the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS. Do you know how impossible it is to try to speak to someone at the IRS? On top of that, who in the world wants to connect with them other than when our taxes are due?

I called. I negotiated their automated system. Repeatedly. And each time (six times) I ended up getting a message saying no one was available. Or they needed more information (followed by “goodbye”). Or some other lame ending that basically cut me off.

I was steaming.

I contacted Createspace again. Then, I finally found an email address for the IRS and sent off a request for help.

I contacted my “local” IRS office in Tucson, nearly 100 miles away. They don’t do that kind of work, it seems, and I was referred back to the IRS 800 number.

And then a miracle! I received a return email from the IRS!!

Well, they don’t help with that via email. Only by telephone. But the automated letter told me exactly what numbers to punch on the automated phone system. So I tried it.

And I got a human!! Glory be. “I’ve never heard of such a situation,” said she. So she sent me over to someone in records. After sitting on hold for quite some time, I got another human!

I explained my whole sad story. And sad it was! I wasn’t even able to enjoy my time in Luxembourg!

“I’ve never heard of such a situation,” said the woman in records. She said it must be a Social Security problem. So I opened my Createspace account and read her what it said, and yes, it said the IRS didn’t find me in the US. Luxembourg was suggested as my place of residence.

She then took all my info and confirmed that I seemed to be who I claimed to be, living in the US. Perhaps suspiciously close to Mexico, but in the US nonetheless.

While I had her on the phone, though, I attempted once again (eighth time) to edit my account on Createspace. I spoke each line aloud to her as I entered my info.

And then it happened. It sent me on to the the second page! The one that had been repeatedly denied me because of where I appeared to be living! I filled out the second page, and I saw, in big yellow letters, VALIDATED. 

Validated! I’m a US citizen! Living in the US!

I got back home from Europe in a split second, just as rapidly as I’d departed a week ago. I wish all my long-distance flights were like that. 

I texted my sister to let her know all was well. She responded that it was mean of me to live in Luxembourg for all that time without letting her know so she could visit. I told her I’d been on a top secret mission and was allowed to tell no one. 

Funny thing is, though, I can’t remember a thing about the whole trip.

Luisa the Green Sea Turtle

It’s out! It’s out!

Book 01

The book that started as a whisper and became a dream is now reality. Here’s the email I sent friends this morning:

I am ecstatic and overwhelmed. I am also in a bit of shock. The book I ran through my brain several years ago is PUBLISHED!!!

The book is Luisa the Green Sea Turtle, a bilingual “read-to” book for 1st to 3rd graders (although my grandniece who just finished 1st grade can read much of it on her own.) It’s about Luisa who gets trapped, faces being turned into soup, but is set free.

It’s available on Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=emilie+vardaman

Or, you can simply log onto Amazon, enter ‘emilie vardaman’ and get to the book that way.

If you have young ones in your life or are simply inclined to make a purchase, I’m asking folks to do so on Monday, July 2. If impossible, try to do so on the 3rd.

 The idea is if a lot of people buy on the same day, the book goes, however briefly, to the top of the sales chart and then is closer to the top of a search page at Amazon. So if you’d like to make a purchase, please do it on July 2. 

THANK YOU!!! 

Luisa’s illustrator (my super duper fabulous #1 niece Jessie Stout) and I are so excited we’re  having champagne! We’re 1700 miles apart but coordinating the champagne.

Emilie

 

The Prime Suspect

I got a message from my housemate, Debbie, while I was in Bahia Kino, Mexico, relaxing on the beach. The message totally unrelaxed me.

Don’t worry, it said. It is taken care of.

Just the beginning scared me.

We had an attempted break in last night. But Chloe chased him off! Nothing appears to be gone or even touched. She must have gone after him immediately.

When Debbie got up that morning and wandered into the kitchen for her coffee, she noticed a long slice in the screen of the sliding glass door. The door has a security door over it but I have never bothered to lock it figuring everyone would believe it was locked. The security door was ajar.

And Chloe was missing! Debbie had watched her go to bed. Later she closed the dog door and then headed to bed herself. So where was Chloe? Still chasing the perp? Who knows. Then Debbie went back to the kitchen, examined the screen, and dialed 9-1-1. When she called, she was told it would be an hour or so before anyone could come. Unfortunately, Debbie had to get ready to go to work, so she arranged for a deputy to come by in the evening.

As she left for work, Debbie saw Chloe across the road and got her back inside quickly with a dog treat. She opened the dog door and left the house in Chloe’s capable hands, er, paws.

Debbie arrived home and just before the deputy arrived, she noticed Chloe out across the street again. What the hell? How did she do that?

That evening, just a little after Chloe had again been rounded up, Deputy Morales came by. Debbie said he was exceptionally soft-spoken and sweet, just the type to be reassuring for a woman who was understandably concerned.

Any suspects? the kindly deputy asked. Debbie could think of none.

He talked with her awhile and in doing so found we occasionally forget to lock up the house. He was, appropriately for a law enforcement officer, horrified. He told her to check the doors each night and to buy some rods to drop into the tracks of the sliding door and all the sliding windows. He also discussed video surveillance.

As Debbie and Deputy Morales talked, Chloe kept nosing about and Debbie proclaimed how she was so proud of the dog for chasing off the would-be burglar. My pup earned a few more treats and scratches.

And then, the lightbulb moment. Debbie and the officer took a closer look at the screen. Not a slash, but sort of sliced up. And how did Chloe get out again that evening?

A short time later, a look around the yard showed the gate to the road had been dug at and dug at and the gate shoved and shoved. There was room for a thirty-five-pound dog to slide through.

Clearly, Chloe had gone to bed and while Debbie’s back was turned had gone back out again – right before the dog door was closed. When Debbie closed the dog door she’d inadvertently locked Chloe in the yard. Desperate to get back in to food and water (and her comfy bed, no doubt), Chloe had broken out of the yard and scratched at the window trying to get in or at least get Debbie’s attention.

Chloe hadn’t chased off a burglar at all. She’d merely been trying to get into the house for a good night’s sleep.

With a reminder to lock up and secure the sliding door and windows, Officer Friendly departed. Chloe, I’m sure, had a bit of a grin on her face for getting all those extra treats and scratches.

Suspect 37408

Chlose-side

Chloe-front

 

Mazatlán

Mazatlán is the sea. The Oceano Pacifico. Twelve miles of sandy beach. El Faro, the lighthouse, the highest in all of the Americas, or in all the world, according to Mazatlecos, those from Mazatlán. It is rocky islands just off the coast and statue after statue along the Malecón, the walkway along the ocean. Rows of pangas, small boats used by fishermen and used to give short rides to tourists. Parasailing and kayaking, snorkeling near the islands. A water slide into the ocean. Sunbathing, bikinis, and topless women. Gaping men.

Mazatlán is high rises on the Zona Dorada, the Gold Zone, the tourist zone. Entire neighborhoods that cater to the the wealthy tourist. $300,000 condos and $200/night hotels. Trendy cafés and signs in English.

Mazatlán is drug wars. The war among those trying to replace Chapo Guzmán. It is extortion and gangsters in the neighborhoods. It is gunfire at night, in the clubs, in the barrios in the streets. It is the thirteen who were shot the night before I arrived.

Mazatlán is kindness. Men holding doors for women. Strangers helping a lost tourist, even walking out of their way to point out the correct street. Offers of food. Young women stopping to pick up something I dropped.

Mazatlán is traffic. Pedestrians scrambling across six lanes of moving vehicles. Cars and busses that blast through yellow lights. Honking horns and screeching brakes. Bicyclists and men on bicycle carts competing with trucks and busses on the roadways. Traffic jams in downtown Mazatlán Viejo, Old Mazatlán.

Mazatlán is El Centro, the downtown area. The mercado that fills an entire city block, bursting with stall after stall after stall of meats, vegetables, cheeses, taco stands, clothing, trinkets, purses and jewelry. And more. It is the the cathedral and the main plaza, Plaza Republica. Park benches and shoeshine stands. Wandering musicians. The small clubs where anyone can get up to sing with the band and old men play dominoes. Streets filled with shoppers and tourists, huaraches and Birkenstocks, mini skirts and aprons over housedresses. A man with no legs on the sidewalk, begging.

Mazatlán is public transportation. Truck-taxis with benches along each side running the length of the truck beds, the whole covered with tarps for shade. It is open-air taxis of small cars that look like offshoots of a Volkswagen Thing. It is city busses, each one decked out with photos, fringe, crucifixes, posters of the Virgin, saints and the Playboy bunny. Bus drivers who switch lanes into spaces so tight I wouldn’t try to put my car there, who talk on their cell phone while they drive, who text when stopped in traffic, who let their wives and children board without paying.

Mazatlán is small stores and enterprise. Tiny grocery stores every few blocks. Small restaurants on corners and in front rooms. Vendors on bicycle carts. Home garages turned into stalls where women sell snacks or men repair toasters.
Mazatlán is sidewalk nightmares. Sidewalks rise, they fall, they disappear. They are level with the street or two feet above it. They change levels, textures, angles and stability a dozen times in one block. Holes and cracks abound. Concrete, tile, dirt and brick, often all four along three connecting storefronts. Sidewalks in Mazatlán are to be respected, attended to while walking, and are not for the faint of heart.

Mazatlán is cosmopolitan. Many races, many nationalities, many languages. Theaters and museums. Public art. Business meetings in a café. Excellent coffee. Baguette, lobster, mocha, sushi. Fine dining. Nightclubs and waterfront restaurants, trendy shops. Women breastfeed in public.

Mazatlán is its barrios, its neighborhoods. Cars with speakers atop them cruise the street announcing fresh fruit, bread, or bottled water for sale. Neighbors in front yards or on the steps, chatting. Children playing soccer in the street. Fireworks at night because … well … because.

Mazatlán is her people. Mothers with babies and a gaggle of young children. A school outing with a long line of first graders and two harried teachers. Tourists with cameras, everyone with cellphones. High heels click click clicking down the sidewalk. Lovers oblivious to all others.

Mazatlán is still the sea. Fishing and fish markets. Dolphins and sea lions, seagulls and frigates. Turtles lumbering onto the beach to lay eggs, hatchlings erupting and scrambling to the water.

Mazatlán.

Days Three and Four

Day three dawned gray and cool. Not ones to be put off by a little bad weather, we set off to Bath via back roads as recommended by Michael, our Couchsurf host.

But what is it about cemeteries? Both Barbara and I were drawn to one along the road. It had death dates in the early and mid 1800s. Although some had not died until they were in their seventies or eighties, many had died in their thirties, and quite a few were children or babies. The fragility of life two hundred years ago.

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Bath is a sweet village on one of the many inlets along the coast. Michael told us that if the Maine coastline were stretched out into a straight line, it would be longer than the California coast. I looked it up, and yep. Maine’s coastline north to south is 228 miles long compared to California’s which is 840. But in a straight line, Maine beats California by about fifty miles, with a grand total of 3478 coastline miles. Compare that to its 228 mile length and that is a lot of inlets!

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Bath has a major shipbuilding industry and there are also several small shops that build small wooden boats.

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It has a very walkable downtown with an odd bookstore, interesting shops, antiques, and lots of warm clothing available. It also has one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen.

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The library in Bath

Then we backtracked to Freeport where we met Michael and fellow Couchsurfer Rachel for lunch, and since we were in Freeport, the home of LL Bean, well, we just had to visit. And we ended up leaving dollars behind in exchange for some great clothes.

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We settled back in at Michael’s house then left in the morning after a thousand thanks and goodbye hugs. Off we went back to Portland (back roads) where we picked up Kathy and headed out to roam the streets and go to Gilbert’s Chowder House. More chowder!

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Now we we are three!

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An old fire truck repurposed as a tour bus, downtown Portland

We did a bit of shopping and Barbara bought us a cigar to share.

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Then we noodled our way north to Rockland where we met up with Cousin Jill (actually, the wife of my cousin Bruce, but she is now my cousin too since she married him.)

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The final foursome

We had a light dinner of salad and then … we boarded the schooner!

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Because the sail wasn’t fully booked, we each ended up with a private room. After settling in, we wondered how in the world two people could comfortably share such a tiny space. The answer is simple: Don’t stay in the room. Head out on deck.

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We learned our way around the schooner and learned basic important terms: port, starboard, galley and head.

None of us slept well that night. Too many people in a small space. We could hear each other enter or leave the head, heard some snoring from several directions, and even heard someone talking in her sleep. After that, earplugs ensured a sound sleep.

On Wednesday morning we had a hearty breakfast and then had a bit of time to roam town and pick up last minute items we may have forgotten. Kathy and I did a strange thing: We walked to McDonalds. But there was a good reason. Honest. I wanted to see if what I had heard was true. I’d been told that McDonalds in Maine served lobster rolls!

Yes, it was true, but sadly it was out of season so I couldn’t even see it on the menu. The young woman behind the counter told us to come back in the late spring. Oh, well.

Back to the schooner where we waved goodbye to anyone around, and off we sailed.

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