If you’re from the southern states of the USA, you really need to experience the beautiful fall colors of the trees in New England and Canada. It is a breathtaking encounter that doesn’t come across in all of its wonder in photographs.

My sister Becky, Mom and I began this adventure on October 10, 2007. We boarded the Celebrity ship Constellation in Newark, New Jersey. Our stateroom was a handicap room with two beds, a sleeper sofa and a large restroom. It was a relatively big, comfortable room; the only real problem was the limited number of hangers in the closet. There were only thirteen for all three of us to use! Come on people we’re talking about a thirteen day cruise, with three formal nights; that takes a lot of clothes for three women. Luckily I had packed most of my shirts on their plastic hangers, so I only used two of the ones allotted to us. Mom and Becky were grateful.

My sister Becky, Mom and I
My sister Becky, Mom and I

Our first night we ate dinner at our assigned table, which was by a window in the San Margo Restaurant. Our tablemates were Kay, a retired travel agent and a married couple named Marsha and Bruce. We really enjoyed sharing this trip with them.

The first port of call was Newport Rhode Island. The three of us took an excursion called ‘The Best of Newport’. We were driven by lots of beautiful homes that were anywhere from one to two hundred years old. We spent most of our time at ‘The Elms’, a mansion completed in 1901 and owned by the Berwinds family. It was a beautiful place, but Mom, Becky & I had most of our fun looking at the gardens and taking pictures of each other in front of these huge trees, that I assumed were elms.

The Elm Trees
The Elm Trees

On the way back to the ship we drove by the small church where John and Jackie Kennedy were married, it was a quant looking church from the outside.

Church where John and Jackie Kennedy were married
Church where John and Jackie Kennedy were married

A Nor’easter hit during the night while we were sailing up the northeast coast to Portland Maine. Boy, did that create a big difference in the weather! The temperature was lowered thirty degrees, and the wet wind chill made it feel even colder. I hadn’t brought a coat with me, even though I knew there would be a big difference from the weather in Texas. I figured I could buy something interesting up north.

I didn’t have anything planned until the afternoon, so I bought a ticket for a ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ bus and went into Portland on my own. I had been told about an L.L. Bean outlet store, so I asked to be dropped off there. It was the perfect store for me. I found an attractive coat that was a harmony of brown, burnt orange and white. It had a hood, which came in really handy when it started raining later, and a fleece lining that could be removed if the weather got out of the fifties. I bought the coat along with a pair of gloves and headed out to catch another bus feeling quite snug in my warm coat and gloves.

The next place I hopped off was the Portland Museum of Art. I love the art world. It was really a very good collection; I spent most of my time in their Impressionist rooms where they had paintings by Renoir, Monet and Degas. There was a painting there that I loved by Felix Thurlow, but I haven’t been able to find anything about him on the internet.

The afternoon excursion I took was a wonderful experience; it was the one that took us to Kennebunkport, Maine. We were able to see some outstanding foliage along the bus drive, the collage of reds, oranges, yellows and greens were breathtaking.

In Kennebunkport we got to see the Bush estate. It was actually called the Walker estate because it belonged to Barbara Walker Bush before she married the first president Bush. That made it seem even neater to me.

Me, Becky & Mom on the ship

Me, Becky & Mom on the ship

We had a bit of excitement on our return to Portland. I use a small, three wheeled walker that has a large leather bag that is attached to the frame and a wire tray sitting between the handles. This means that people usually have me carry things for them because I can stuff them in the bag or hang them on the handles of my walker. Well, after Mom and I got back to the ship we were on the elevator going to different decks. As I was getting off on deck five, to go to the art gallery, Mom spoke up because her purse was still hanging on my walker. I turned as I was lifting the purse and lost my balance, which made me fall all tangled up in the walker. I mean my legs were wrapped around the wheels and the handles were under me. Mom stood there in shock, with no idea of what she could do to help with her tiny 82 year old body.

Thank goodness a man walked up and asked if he could help. He helped me get untangled and on my feet, all the while calming Mom down. We were both very embarrassed but grateful. I had knots and bruises all over me.

We got to the quant city of Bar Harbor, Maine on Saturday, the 13th. It’s a neat little town but not many exciting things to see or do. In the morning I roamed around the town on my own and took a few pictures. There was this cute bridge that went from the port area into Bar Harbor and I got a good picture of it.

In the afternoon, Mom and I went on an excursion that took us to the Acadia Park and Rinehart Pavilion, we saw some beautiful scenery but the tour was a little boring.

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, our next port of call, was one of my favorite places. I took a six hour tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. Our tour guide told us a lot about the French, English and Scottish history of Nova Scotia and it was fascinating. We got to see some darling little villages. Our guide was a former teacher and really informative about the trials of the Acadians (who later became the Louisiana Cajuns) and the Evangeline poem, which was written by Longfellow in 1847. It’s about an Acadian maiden, Evangeline, torn from her lover, Gabriel, on their wedding day in1755. It was based on the expulsion of the French Acadians that were in Nova Scotia, to Louisiana. They were separated and Evangeline spent her life searching for Gabriel. They were finally reunited when Gabriel was on his death bed.

We ate lunch in Winsor, Nova Scotia, which was a real experience. I ended up ordering the soup and salad because it was so unusual. The soup was pumpkin and potato, which sounded really strange but it was delicious. The salad had a very tasty light maple/balsamic dressing.

There was a traffic jam on the road back, which made us forty five minutes late getting back to the ship. But it worked out all right because our guide had called to make sure they didn’t leave without us. The traffic problem was due to the Pumpkin Regatta that was going on. This took place on a lake that came up close to the highway and people were slowing down to watch the spectacle. For the Regatta, people cleaned out these huge pumpkins, then got in them and paddled across the lake in a race. In the process of crossing the lake most of the pumpkins either fell apart from the weight in them or turned over. Can you imagine being dumped into a lake that is 50 degrees!

Luckily the next day was a sea day, which can be very relaxing. I went to a story telling seminar at 10:00 AM and a fragrance seminar at 11:30 AM. I learned some useful information at both. At lunch I asked Mom and Becky to keep me from spending more than $100 that afternoon. They said they would try. The reason I asked them for this favor was because I was going to an art auction in the afternoon. Mom and Becky went with me to the auction but they left after thirty minutes, what a big help.

There was this outstanding print of a painting by Hua Chen that I had scoped out before the auction and it finally came up for bid. The auctioneer announced that the suggested price was $1400, but he opened the bidding at $100. Someone went for the opening bid, another bid $150 then I bid $200. No one else bid so the auctioneer closed the bidding and told me to come and talk to him at 8:45 PM in the art gallery, I’m sure he was hoping I wouldn’t show up. I was very excited about the prospect of putting that lovely print in my living room, even though I had bid $100 more than I planned.

It was with this excited frame of mind that I went to the meeting with the Park West auctioneer. However, when I met with him, he told me that the least he could take was $650! I argued with him, stating that it was a print of a painting and that if $650 was the least he could take, he should have opened the bidding at that, not $100. He responded with a snide remark that he could open the bidding where ever he wanted and the print was specially treated and numbered. I was very offended by his attitude and unethical behavior at the auction so I filed a complaint with Celebrity Cruises.

OK, I’ve expressed my anger, now I’ll move on. The next day we cruised down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, Quebec. It was astounding to me to conceive of how wide and deep the St. Lawrence is, I mean it facilitated the huge ship Constellation! The scenery along the banks was extremely colorful. We got to spend two days in Quebec City, which was very enjoyable.

On our first day, Mom, Becky and I took a taxi into the old part of town and just walked around shopping in some shops that were geared toward tourist. I love those kinds of stores. Later in the evening I went on an excursion to a restaurant called The Sugar Shack. Along the way to the restaurant our guide pointed out some historical buildings and areas but it was too dark to really see them. At the Sugar Shack we were served a good meal with a lot of maple flavor. There was a three piece (banjo, guitar & drum) band that entertained us and we were taught a strange dance that looked like a lot of fun. It was a fun experience but we didn’t get back to the ship until after midnight, which is a little late for me

I slept late the next morning and just relaxed. In the afternoon I went on a tour called ‘Old and New Quebec City’. It was really a neat city but it had so many hills, I’d never be able to survive living there. I tried to walk from our tour bus over to an area called ‘Artist Alley’ but I had to go up and down a few hills to get there and then the breaks on my walker went out while I was on my way to Artist Alley. That scared me to death so I turned around and headed back to the bus. Thank goodness I found a sweet couple along the way that asked me if I needed some help. They ended up walking me back, holding on to the walker to keep it from rolling away with me. I was so grateful to them. An engineer on the ship was able to fix the brakes when I got back.

Quebec City
Quebec City

A sea day followed and the only excitement was a fire on deck one. Luckily it was put out pretty quickly. We were in the San Marco Restaurant eating lunch with an endearing couple, he was 92 and she was 84, when the alarm sounded so we just stayed there until the all clear. It was really strange; no one seemed to get too excited about the whole thing.

Our next stop was Prince Edward Island. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world! It’s covered with rolling hills and the fall leaves were an exquisite array of orange, red, yellow and green. I went on the Anne of Green Gables excursion. It was like taking a trip back in time. You wouldn’t believe the black and white striped cows they have on the island. They are white with these thick black stripes going around them, it’s absolutely wild!

And then the storm hit! It was Saturday, October 20th; a sea day. The wind and rain was blowing like crazy, creating huge waves that really rocked the ship. The three of us walked together to the restaurant for breakfast, helping each other stay on our feet. After we ate we went up to the card room on deck five and played Hartwick rummy. It seems to be a game Mom’s family developed and we’ve been playing it for decades.  It’s kind of a rite of passage into our family; you have to be able to understand the rules, which change at a moment’s notice and be willing to play for hours at a time.

It was fascinating to watch those rowdy waves and luckily there was always a kind gentleman that would stabilize our movements when going to meals. This was my sixth cruise and the first time that I was in a storm that created so much rocking of the ship.

Our final port of call was Boston, MA. This was my first time there. We had a bit of a problem because it was our first port back in the US, so immigration had to come on board and screen everyone. That would have been fine but they were an hour and a half late getting to the ship, which made us late getting to our morning excursions. I went on one without Mom and Becky called ‘Historic Boston and Cambridge’. It was a nice tour, I’d love to go back and spend a week in Boston. The hill going up to the famous Old North Church (where Paul Revere hung the lanterns) was pretty steep, so I didn’t walk up there. I gave my camera to a fellow passenger and he took some good pictures for me.

It was really a fascinating tour; we got to see ‘Old Ironsides’, which was the ship named ‘Constitution’ that fought in the battle of Trafalgar. We also walked around the Harvard campus for a while; it’s a relatively small but beautiful campus. Our guide told us about Lydia Pinkham, who developed and marketed home remedies in the 1800’s from her home in Lynn Massachusetts. Her most popular ones were for menstrual pains and menopause, which are still available today.

One of the places that caught my attention was a statue of William Hooker. He was the guy that took some women of ill repute out to Washington’s men to entertain them. I’ve always wondered where prostitutes got the nickname hooker, now I know and we even have a statue memorializing him.

Statue of William Hooker
Statue of William Hooker

The wildest thing about our tour was that the guide kept talking about ‘The Big Dig’ but her accent made it sound like she was saying ‘the big dick’ and of course us mature adults had to snicker every time she said it. Someone must have said something to her about it though because she finally started spelling dig out loud instead of saying the word.

We got back to the ship late due to our late start, so I wasn’t able to go get Mom before the excursion to Salem started. I told a Celebrity employee my concerns about finding Mom before our tour and the sweet guy found a wheelchair and went and got her. Mom loved that!

The trip into Salem was beautiful and informative. I had no idea that it used to be such a vital and wealthy seaport. I guess the only thing I ever paid attention to were the witch hunts and trials of 1692. We saw a wonderful presentation reenacting some of the things that led up to the witch trials. The Salem Witch Museum was very interesting. I bought a lot of gifts there.

Salem Witch Museum
Salem Witch Museum

Boston and Salem were probably my favorite cities that we visited on this trip but the most memorable incident, that I’ll never forget, happened in our stateroom.

Mom and Becky wore pedometers hooked to the waste bands of their clothes on the whole trip to keep track of how far they walked each day. Well, everyday there was always a huge difference between the number of steps they took. I mean Becky’s pedometer would say she took 9,000-10,000 steps and Mom’s would say she had taken 2,000! We knew that Becky did a lot of running around for us but there was no way that she was doing five times the amount of walking we were. The whole trip we kept telling her that she needed to slam her feet down harder on the ground and swing her hips more when she walked so her steps would register on the pedometer. Well, after we got back from Salem, Mom took a shower while Becky and I talked about our day. All of a sudden the bathroom door opened and Mom came strutting out naked, except for her panties with the pedometer attached. She was stomping her feet and swinging her hips in the most bizarre dance you’ve ever seen.  Becky and I were shocked at first, and then we were all rolling with laughter. I didn’t think we’d ever stop laughing.

Our final day was a relaxing sea day which gave everyone a chance to rejuvenate before returning home. We did a lot of eating and card playing, which was great. In the afternoon we attended an outstanding piano concert. This was a very enjoyable trip; cruising is the most convenient way to travel. We’re already planning our next cruise, which will be down the Danube River.

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