27 August 2018

A new Adventure in the US of A.

We Bears embarked with our BBF on another adventure to the USA and Canada in week 34! Petra and Vincent kindly drove us to the airport and here began the first bit of the adventure when we made a mistake about where to park, so round the block we drove again! This occurred again at the destination airport, but more on that later.

It was a sad farewell at the barrier where our family left us to our own devices and the vagaries of the airlines. 

We had lots of time as the check in had gone smoothly even though Alan’s bags were all over weight, so we sat and had a coffee.

We flew KLM via Amsterdam. The plane was late taking off so we began to worry if we would make our next connection. The flight was only some 30 mins long, but the Dutch crew made the effort to serve us all with a biscuit and a drink! 

It was not as much of a rush as Alan feared for the flight to New York was also delayed!

Alan watched various films during the flight from his isle seat right at the back of the aircraft. All in all he thought it a good flight with a kind and attentive cabin crew. 

On arrival the queueing started and we thought it might take ages, but as we had been before to the USA not only did we know the form, but we were able to process much of it ourselves!

Then out in the concourse we soon found Brec, Alan’s circumnavigation brother and we were all so pleased and relieved to see each other after two years.

Now we repeated what we had done at the start of the journey, because we were talking so much we ended up going round and round the car park before we found the exit!

Then it was off into the evening rush hour traffic. Alan said that the reason the Americans call some of their major highways Parkways is because most of the time the cars are parked there and don’t move!

We arrived in Milford to a warm welcome and a
large G+T from Sandy. A good meal of schnitzel with fresh beans from the garden and much talking and catching up until Alan’s Jetlag kicked in, then it was off to bed for a good nights sleep. 

The next morning there was to be an idle day for us to get over our Jetlag. In the evening Sandy had a cousin and her husband join us for a few days. Over a delicious meal of spare ribs the humans all got to know each other.

Friday, another sunny day here in Connecticut, we all went out for a day sail on OTTER, the lovely small yacht that Brec circumnavigated on.

We set off in the morning before the others to help Brec get the boat ready. On the way he showed us an unusual and striking tomb in the local cemetery to a Nathan Adolphus Baldwin. The tomb is surrounded by the statues representing Faith, Charity, Hope and Love and has a weeping woman kneeling over the tomb. 

Brec keeps OTTER nice and tidy, so there was not much to do save run the engine to charge up the batteries.

We in the mean time could catch up with Pugsly, who had also circumnavigated with Brec.

There was not a lot of wind, but OTTER is a well trimmed light boat so we enjoyed the almost silent form of travel. 

We sailed from Bridgeport to Cedar Creek Harbour, where Brec had once kept OTTER for a bit after his return and had lunch in Captains Cove!

All the toilet doors in the USA have gaps in them!

This is not something European humans like much and we know Alan hates them! 
After the sail back in Milford Alan helped Sandy make a Bolognese sauce with the giant tomatoes she had.

The meal was a great success but before we had finished Sandy got a phone call to collect their lodger Bill from the hospital! He had been tailgated and though OK they had thoroughly checked him over. He arrived with a collar brace on but otherwise looked fine. Someone now needed to go and collect his car. So while he sat down to also enjoy some spaghetti Bolognese Brec and Alan went off to find Bill’s Saab!
The solid Saab was not in that bad a condition, good Swedish engineering be praised!

Saturday we set off with Sandy and her cousin Mardis to go to the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Schemitzun! This was their annual Pow Wow and is in the form of a dance competition! Sandy and Mardis both have Indian ancestors in their family tree.

Mardis taking part in the Inter Tribal Dance. She got us up to dance too and after a little while Alan lost his self consciousness and enjoyed it!

Please note that these natives are wearing Tribal Regalia and NOT costumes! Actors in stage and films wear costumes!

They even had a sunset ceremony where they lowered the National Flag, folded them and formally danced them out the arena. Each flag represented a Native American Indian who had fallen in a conflict. They named the conflicts which ranged from the Revolutionary Wars to Iraq and Afghanistan!

Interestingly the parade out was led by a female!

Next on our busy agenda was to attend the Brooks family annual reunion barbecue! This has taken place each year for the last 120 years in Waterford. Here the Brooks family owned some property along a little lane going down to the sea. 

It started with a little camp fire where marshmallows were toasted, tall stories told and with Brec’s accompaniment on the guitar songs sung.

Lobsters were eaten, two each! Alan only managed one!

Followed by, Christopher would be pleased to know, Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.

All five humans and us Bears shared the little cottage showed above which had just two rooms and a shower. Air B and B takes on a new meaning now, for our humans air bed slowly leaked air in the night, so that he ended up with his bottom on the floor. He pumped it up at least twice and as the sun was up on the third occasion he got up and showered instead! 

The other four humans shared the big room with Mardis and John in the bed and Brec and Sandy on a double air bed which did not leak!

Brec’s brother John lives in this house next door.

Alan went with Brec to Dunkin Donuts to get the mornings breakfast which was to be had on the beach at the end of the lane.

For the non Americans a “Box O’Joe” is coffee in a box!

We sat amongst the donuts and enjoyed the view while the humans chatted and ate. 

John, Brec’s brother had printed out the full family tree on two sides of a garage. This side shows the early start of the larger family and the first ones to come to America in the 17th Century.

Here Brec is pointing to his great great grandmother on his part of the family tree. Everyone at the picnic could put their finger on a similar part of the tree!

The gathering are called to order by a cowbell and the oldest, in this case Millie aged 97, said a prayer and a few words of welcome. 

Then each in turn stated who they were and where on the tree they belonged. JOHN later gave everyone a name tag which confirmed this but added a number to show if they were first, second or fourth cousins.

All had brought something to eat. As the majority are Seventh Day Baptists it was a largely Teetotal event. Sandy, however, had brought Gin and Beer so our human was happy!

After lunch tradition has it that they swim out to Grass Rock a tiny rock just below the surface at low tide.
Alan took the inflatable you see here and acted as the safety boat! 

Here you see some of them coming back already.
Two small boys, Charlie and Mike aged 10 and Brec and Roy aged 85 swam as a group together and the boys got there first. It was also their first time getting to stand on the rock. Alan accompanied them some of the way back, then towed Roy most of the way back to shore too.

The day ended with some nice chats to new found friends and family, then it was back to Milford and bed!

Now Mardis and John have returned to upstate New York we have moved rooms to a larger one!

The plan as we now understand it, is for us to go sailing with Brec and Alan for a week or so starting on Wednesday. 
To be continued: