For me, there are three parts to a great trip: The anticipation, planning where we’ll go and what we hope to see. The trip itself, complete with all the sensory stimuli, from the tantalizing scent of bacon sizzling to the incessant itch of no-see-um bites, the sun hot on my back casting for fish, or the lights of the Bateaux Mouches flashing through the arched windows of a Paris apartment on the Seine. The third, of course, is the many memories, and all the tales to tell.
So here’s what’s on offer for anticipation: Winging our way to Florida’s Gulf Coast (look up Pasco County) to swim with manatees (OK, the manatees aren’t guaranteed — wildlife never is — but they’re a real possibility); snorkeling in the Crystal River, fishing the Florida flats (fish aren’t guaranteed either, but if you don’t have your line in the water, you are guaranteed not to catch anything), plus golf on the Gulf. There’ll be fun and photos, and some fine food, so come on along the week of May 20th. I’m new at this, but my personal technogeek (tall, slim, beautiful, and 12) tells me I can post from my phone, and I have every intention of finding out how.
(A moment of silence, please, for Steve Jobs, the guy who made it possible for me to share my world in real time. )
How about Fourth of July in the Thousand Islands, those tiny dots in the St. Lawrence River that straddle the international border between upstate New York and the grand land of Canada? One of those dots is Grenell Island, not far from Clayton, New York. Thousand Islands has long been a summer resort for those who seek to escape the East Coast’s heat and humidity. The little clapboard church on Grenell celebrates one hundred years of service and services this year. One of the cottages, of much the same vintage, needs its annual dose of repair, and we’ll be there. New railings will go up on the second story veranda that looks across the river toward Canada. A summer morning spent identifying the huge ships that ply their way up and down the St. Lawrence Seaway is time well spent. Cheat sheets are available identifying the logos of the shipping lines, clearly emblazoned on the stacks of the vessels. It’s the armchair traveler’s version of going to sea. One can’t help but wonder where the ships are from, where they are bound, and how long from home they might be. Where I stay is a two-story cottage built by a friend’s grandfather on pre-Cambrian rocks that date from the last Ice Age. It’s still in the family, and every summer, family and friends alike show up to fix whatever needs fixing, and plant the garden (pockets, fissures, and small crevasses in the rock packed with soil) with whatever needs planting from peas to peonies.
The coup de grace: Remember that apartment I mentioned on the Seine in Paris? A couple of days ago I received a phone call from the friend who lived there inviting me to come stay at a big, old house in the French countryside belonging to a school chum from France’s highly regarded HEC (Haute Ecole Commerciale — think Harvard Business School or the London School of Economics, but way sexier. It is in Paris, after all.). Further conversation gave me to understand that the big, old house, aka the Chateau de Vermette, is a 16th century castle on France’s list of historic properties, a prized part of the French patrimony, once a portion of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s dowry, and now a privately owned castle complete with a moat, multiple turrets, and 30 beds. Here are the pictures. We’ll be there in mid-July if I can figure out a way to get there without swimming the Atlantic. Follow the blog to find out how things develop.
See you again soon!