Wow, it has been too many months since my last post. No excuses, I’ve just been distracted by other things. I have a reminder set to blog on Sundays and for the past many Sundays upon seeing it I have thought, oh, I’ll do it next week. So here we finally are…
Sunday mornings are lazy mornings for me – the one day of the week when I typically stay in bed late. I love to watch CBS Sunday Morning with coffee and breakfast in bed. Yes, an indulgence to be sure.
This morning, with Lola laying right beside me as usual, I couldn’t help thinking that our pets, Lola in particular, hit the lottery when they were adopted by us. Lola came to us almost exactly one year ago. We adopted her from a nonprofit pet rescue organization about four months after losing our beloved Sydney who was about 16.5 years old when she passed. Lola, like thousands of other dogs and cats, was brought up to the Northeast from the South where there are an abundance of strays and homeless animals.
At first Lola was a little anxious periodically chewing on mostly unimportant items and getting overly whiney when we would leave the house. We felt compelled to crate her when we were gone during the day and she really didn’t mind that. Today she has lost most of that anxiety and is very comfortable and happy. In fact, she is so comfortable that she considers all of the furniture in our house and outside as her furniture. She enjoys practically everything – walks, hikes, and long car rides.
Here you can see Lola lounging on our outdoor patio furniture as we catch some rays on this almost-summer Sunday. Why do I say that Lola hit the lottery? Not just because our pets are well cared for and certainly her life is a far cry from whatever it looked like down south. The other reason is that we click so well as a “family”. She cheerfully wakes us up in the morning with licks to the face when we sleep later than usual, wants to go wherever we do, and she loves seeing our sons whenever they are back home for a visit. It’s like she knows that Elijah, Jesse, and Will are her human brothers. And she is so in tune with us, and we with her. She seems to know what the plan is at any given moment and just rolls with it. She even loves her furry feline brother, Pumpkin, and he seems to pretty much tolerate her too.
So, I frequently remark to Kim that “Lola really hit the lottery when we adopted her”. Kim is quick to remind me that we too hit the lottery. So true.
I am writing this post today because I am Angry. Sad. Frustrated. Disappointed. Disheartened. Mourning. Scared. And did I say “Angry”? If the Novel Coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread at the rate it currently is spreading, or even at a slightly improved rate, I suspect we are all soon going to know someone who dies as a direct result of this virus. As of today, I now know two people who are no longer with us thanks to this virus. One was someone I worked with in the past, and the other, a childhood friend. I have another friend who, along with his wife, were both recently hospitalized with COVID-19. His wife succumbed quickly while he hung on. He was just removed from the ventilator and is now breathing on his own. He will hopefully move into a rehab facility in the near future. He knows his wife is gone but he remains “foggy” and confused.
To those of you who think that COVID-19 is no big deal, or that it is “like the flu”, or a hoax, or that you won’t contract it, please wake up! Stop listening to politicians or business people who don’t have medical training or who think that the economy is more important than the science. I’m not saying the economy isn’t important, and that people aren’t and won’t continue to suffer due to the impacts to the economy. It is important. And people will continue to suffer. And that sucks for them and for all of us.
But COVID-19 is not “like the flu”. Globally, according to the WHO, worldwide about 3.4% of people with reported COVID-19 cases have died so far. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.
More on the differences from Johns Hopkins University (hopkinsmedicine.org): Cause COVID-19: Caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. Flu: Caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses.
Transmission: While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways, there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.
Deaths: More from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., from Oct. 1, 2019 – Apr. 4, 2020, the CDC estimates that 24,000 to 62,000 people died from the flu. (The CDC does not know the exact number because the flu is not a reportable disease in most parts of the U.S.). COVID-19: In the U.S, 155,478 people have died of COVID-19, as of August 4, 2020.* Even at the high estimate of 62,000 deaths from the flu in six months, the number of COVID-19 known deaths in less than 6 months is two and a half times higher…and still climbing. Current projections by the CDC are that we could see between 168,000 and 182,000 total COVID-19 deaths reported by August 22. That is less than three weeks from today. How long until we have a quarter million dead? Will we have a vaccine and better therapeutics in place before then?
So, in the past, like during WWII, Americans were willing to make sacrifices for the common good and for the welfare of our entire nation. Americans were asked to make do with less of everyday necessities like gasoline, sugar, butter, milk, and toothpaste. Everyone, even children, was issued a ration book. And what are we asking American citizens to do today? To stay inside when you can. To wear a face mask when you leave your home. To stay 6 feet or more from people, to wash your hands frequently, and to not go to large group gatherings where you could transmit it to others or contract it from others. Pretty basic stuff but many people say “it steps on my rights”, or “I can’t breath with a mask on”, or some such nonsense. I was at the gym the other day where they have strict rules about wearing a mask in the common gym areas at all times, social distancing, equipment is spaced out or taped off, etc. A young man was sitting on the floor staring into his phone with his mask sitting on the floor next to him. I asked him to put his mask on and he said “I need to breathe”. I told him he could go outside the gym to breath, or he could do like the rest of us and follow the rules and put his mask on. I’ll spare you the rest of details but he left the club within minutes.
Will you think differently when someone close to you dies from COVID-19? Or when they contract it, hopefully recover, but possibly have to live the rest of their life with permanent damage to vital organs such as their lungs or heart? Is that what it will take for those of you that we are inconveniencing to make the basic sacrifices the scientists and medical experts are asking of us? Let’s not take the cavalier attitude that “It is what it is.” Let’s instead make it into something better – the worst that it has to be because we are willing to make some sacrifices for the common good. For our fellow Americans.
How many people have to die? And how many that you know personally, before you will care and be a responsible American?
On several weekends, specifically Saturday and Sunday mornings while enjoying that first morning cup of coffee I have thought,”ahhh, coffee, the elixir of Gods.” Of course I have no way of knowing if coffee is the elixir of Gods. Do Gods need elixirs? Why would they? But it sure seems to me like a cool concept. I did a quick search and it seems that the native origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethopian with the earliest substantiated evidence of coffee drinking is from the 15th century in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen.
Coffee on the fly
So this morning I am enjoying the first sip of my first cup of coffee – I will generally have maybe two or so cups on Saturdays and Sundays – and I’m thinking, “I’ll blog on this today and how much I love the first sip of the first cup of coffee, especially on weekends.” It’s how I start my day so it’s a good blog topic, right? But actually, coffee is not how I start my day. My day starts long before that first cup of coffee. My day starts typically by hearing an alarm of some sort. I lay there for a few minutes thinking about the day ahead. Then I pray. It’s not a long prayer, but it’s meaningful. Then I get up, find Kim, Lola (our dog) and Pumpking (our cat). They are almost always up before me. I say good morning to all. Kim gets a kiss, Lola a belly rub, and Pumpkin gets his chin and cheeks rubbed and scratched. Eventually I get to that first cup of coffee. And then…ahhh, the elixir of Gods! How does your day start?
Some here in the Philadelphia region call it “Eagles Nation”. Most just say “Go Birds!” or “Go Eagles!”. Now that the notorious Eagles, the so-called “Underdogs” have won their first Super Bowl Championship ever, you no doubt have heard about those crazy Philadelphia fans. Are we crazy? I suppose you could say yes. Are we unruly, rude, and unwelcoming to fans from other cities? Maybe some rabid Eagles fans have a tendency to be a bit unruly and rowdy. Frankly, though, we’re all sick of hearing about that game where Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa. To quote Brian White, staff writer at the Boston Globe (yes, Boston, but he’s originally from Philly), “Look, that happened in 1968, and if that’s the best trash talk you’ve got about my city, you can kiss my Rocky Balboa.”
The Super Bowl Champions Parade, February 8, 2018
Most Philly fans are civilized, gracious, and not overly rowdy. Yes, we love our teams – the Eagles, the Phillies, the Flyers and the Sixers. And we wear our pride on our sleeves. What great sports town’s fans don’t? If the fans don’t go a little nuts over their team, I say shame on them!
Eagles vs. Cowboys December 31, 2017
Yes, Elijah and I went to the final game of the season against the Dallas Cowgirls (oops, did I really write that?) even though it was only 15°, snowy, and theoretically the game didn’t even matter. But it was OUR Eagles against our arch rivals, the Cowboys. It matters, and it was awesome! Most Eagles fans grew up here and love of this team is a family and generational tradition. Fathers, sons, moms, daughters, sisters & brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all have reveled in the glory of victory and the agony of defeat together for years and years. Not having grown up here, my perspective is a little different. I started a family tradition with my boys. I dragged my wife into it too, but she really only watches when the Birds make it to the playoffs.
And then, there are my “brothers”. We have developed our own band of brothers. We have started our own traditions. We all bleed green, and we all love this team! We prepare theme food for the games depending on who the Birds are playing. Or we just do usual football food, whatever fits. We rotate hosting game watching parties at our homes. We have as few as four to as many as eight or ten of us, just depending. It’s awesome.
Eagles Band of Brothers
And then there is the whole Underdog thing. Were the Eagles the Underdogs this year? Definitely. But now they are the Top Dogs. Undeniably. Hey, this is Rocky’s town – what greater Underdog story has ever been told. So, ’nuff said. I bleed green. We bleed green.
FLY EAGLES FLY, ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY…E-A-G-L-E-S…EAGLES! GO BIRDS!!!
Yup, that’s me in the Underdog mask with Remy, the real dog
The way men are taught to think and behave, in many cases, is wrong. We are seeing this manifested in the news, in our politics, in those who entertain us, and in practically every direction we look these days. Justin Baldoni challenges men and women to challenge the way we, as men, think, see ourselves, define “masculinity”, and operate in the world. I have been thinking about men and their – scratch that – and our behavior a lot lately. And I have been speaking with my wife about it too. I have felt ashamed of what I see happening around us every day. I think – why do men behave like this? How can men think these behaviors are OK? Does this go back to the beginning of time? And, if so, how do we change something that is so deep seated, so “ingrained”? There is only one answer that comes to mind. It has to start with me. And it has to start with my guys. It has to start with eachman. Even if I don’t engage in these behaviors that are so offensive to me, in some way I am still responsible to make a difference. If I do nothing because I don’t see myself as part of the problem, then I am indeed part of the problem. In the words of Ghandi, “let me be the change I wish to see in the world.” Let it begin with me. Watch this TED Talk and join me in being part of the solution.
All good things typically come to and end. This vacation was definitely one to remember and I sense we will be back in Maine again someday. Yes, we logged nearly 1,400 miles (I was temped to ride 20 more miles just to be able to say “1,400 miles”) in 10 days passing through seven states and staying in three of them. A few of those days had us on the bike for 6+ hours. I earned my “Iron Butt” credentials on this trip, for sure!
Our final days included a stay over in Portland, ME where we saw the port area and stayed in very nice hotel – the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa. I visited the spa for a sauna, some steam and a “healing massage.” It was helpful after spending several hours on the bike that day. Prior to arriving in Portland we stopped in Bangor, ME, a quaint and small New England town that happens to be the home and likely setting of Stephen King and many of his novels. We made this a destination on our trip as I have read most of his books, seen the movies (of course) and he is one of my all-time favorite authors. His house is a “destination” for all fans when in Maine. Kim took my picture in front of his home (below) and I took photos for a few other fans that we encountered there.
We made a stop at Central Maine Harley Davidson to get a shirt – my “biker” friend Andy says that you cannot have a shirt from a Harley store unless you’ve visited there yourself, otherwise it’s cheating! The shirt has a lobster riding a Harley, of course!
After one night in Portland it was on to our final stop – Greenwich, CT, home to hedge fund managers and other Wall Street elite. But on our way to Connecticut we stopped in Ounquite, Maine, a very popular beach town, and had lunch at the Cornerstone Restaurant, famous for it’s pizzas and craft beers. The pizza we had there just might’ve been one of the best pizzas ever! We then stopped in Perkins Cover, just nearby, for a nice view of their port. Here are some pics.
In Greenwich we stayed in a contemporary and very cool hotel called the J House Greenwich. It is an independent hotel and my pics won’t do it justice but the rooms and the restaurant are very cool, hip, whatever adjective you can think of. The bathrooms in the rooms there are equipped with a very special kind of commode. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination! Here are some pics.
Of course just like Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, there really is no place like home. It was truly a great vacation and a wonderful, albeit delayed celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary. But coming home to our pets and one of the kids all waiting for us was just what the doctor ordered! Here are a few after photos including our ride, a badass Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic. Thanks for following along on our trip via this blog. Stay tuned for future blog posts on a wide and random range of topics. So long for now, and if you are a HOG rider, keep the shiny side up!
Night with his Maine Catnip treat on the way to a nice catnip buzz…
Me with my raccoon biker’s tan and my Central Maine Harley Davidson (lobster) t-shirt chillin’ at home.
In Kim’s words, this place is “a-Maine-zing”! Today we say goodbye to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park….for now. This post will share some highlights of Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, and, of course, Bar Harbor, where we stayed. By the way, if you ever visit Bar Harbor and don’t already have a favorite place to stay, we highly recommend the Castlemaine Inn. Dan, the owner, as well as Cathy and Bobbie, are all very helpful, and very gracious hosts.
We hiked the Wonderland Trail and Southwest Harbor trail, each offering fairly easy hikes and spectacular views of the national park, the harbor and the Cranberry Islands. It’s also not far from the Bass Harbor Lighthouse but we forgot to go see that. We did see a still operating lighthouse later on the trip, though.
We rode bicycles on the carriage trails built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940. We rode around Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond and stopped for popovers at the famous Jordan Pond House. This is a must do when on Mount Desert Island.
We took a very popular nature cruise out of Northeast Harbor called the Sea Princess. Our guide, Mike, was very knowledgeable and we learned more about lobsters than we ever wanted or needed to. That said, we also experienced. This afternoon trip took us amongst the Cranberry Isles, the Great Harbor of Mount Desert and Somes Sound Fjord. Superb views of Bear Island Lighthouse, nesting osprey and basking harbor seals framed by Acadia’s dramatic mountains comprise the first portion of the cruise. A major highlight of the trip was a 45-minute stop at the 200-year-old lobster fishing village of Little Cranberry Island to see the lobster fishing boats come to port and to explore an unspoiled offshore island community reminiscent of days gone by. The last hour of the trip took us deep into Somes Sound Fjord for a spectacular view of the vertical Eagle Cliffs rising directly from the sea. I met some island kids who were selling fresh made lemonade and brownies for only 50 cents each. Yum! Here are the pics:
Finally, we headed up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to take in the views and to see the sun begin to set. By the way, the top of Cadillac Mountain is where you can be among the first people to see the sun rise in North America. The only problem is you have to get up there areound 5 am! Check out these “a-Maine-zing” pics including our shadow reflected in the rocks as we descended down Cadillac Mountain.
We enjoyed our last night’s dinner at the Asticou Inn near Northeast Harbor. It is a very old and historic in with beautiful views of the harbor. They also have really good popovers there too (we like them better than Jordan Pond Houses’s).
I cannot imagine that we won’t come back to Mount Desert Island some day. It was really beautiful, spiritual, and fun too.
This post will contain fewer words but many pics. Bar Harbor and sorrounding towns and villages, as well as Acadia National Park, are simply breathtaking and amazing. Also, the best live/fresh lobsters ever, right off the boat! After hikes in Acadia National Park, the Southwest Harbor Trail and the Wonderland Trail, we headed over to Tremont for a feast at Thurston’s Lobster Pound. Very proud of Kim for getting her hands dirty and digging in to a whole lobster, which is very out of character for her! Enjoy the pics.
There were so many of these stone sculptures made by others so we decided we had to make one of our own!
In town for dinner at Geddy’s our first night in Bar Harbor:
I will post later about our stops in Freeport and Camden, ME. Stay tuned!
We spent our first evening and full day in Kennebunkport. While we were not invited to dine with the Bushs at their complex, we did hike to it to take a look. What an amazing complex. It’s no wonder they love it there!
This was as close as we got but beautiful views of the complex and the sea from Walker’s Point
After that it was off to town to have the obligatory lobster roll and clam roll. We checked out a few shops and then back to our hotel to relax for a bit before dinner.
We found relaxation in some lounge chairs where Kim enjoyed a cocktail and I a cigar.
Then, back on the bike and back to Earth at Hidden Pond, where we had massages yesterday, for dinner in their renowned restaurant. It was, perhaps, one of the best meals we ever had! And they have a some great sitting areas, including an indoor fireplace, perfect for a chilly Maine evening.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Kennebunkport as we make our way North to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. More to follow!
Kim is super proud we were able to get all of our clothes and gear picked into our motorcycle luggage for our 10-day trip up the east coast to Maine. Night, our 15-year-old cat, really wanted to come with as demonstrated by him sacking out on our atlas (see pic above).
Following an 8-hour journey starting in Media, PA, we arrived at our hotel in Boston at about 5pm. Oh, and we rode about half of the trip in a light to medium rain starting in Connecticut and lasting all the way to Boston. Thankfully we have good rain gear! A brief rest and cleaning up is followed by a wonderful dinner with friends, Jennifer and Peter – delicious Boston Italian food!
The next morning we grab a quick breakfast at Ziggy’s and then it’s off for a stroll around Boston Commons and Boston Public Gardens.
After that, off to Maine! We stopped for lunch in Salisbury, MA at The Deck on the Merrimack River. Next stop was Kennebunkport, ME where we arrived in the late afternoon just in time for well-deserved massages at Tree House at Hidden Pond.
A private tree house massage room – amazing! The day was capped off with dinner at a wonderful restaurant and a stroll around town.