In a way it seems like just yesterday when we were all assembled at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Auditorium for the ceremony that marked the change in lifestyle that we are enjoying so much now. Yet, in the two months that have passed since that event we have traveled a lot, seen great new places and worked on the transition from the business perspective. It has been an incredibly busy and at the same time relaxing period.
Most recently we spent eight nights at the Hanscom Air Force Base Family Camp. The campground is a very well maintained property located on the edge of a residential area but well buffered by a wide stand of trees. Along the length of the campground runs one of only two runways for Hanscom Air Force Base and Hanscom Field, a small local airport. The only downside to this property is the fact that the majority of the air traffic is small private jets which seem to me to be very much louder than there bigger commercial counterparts. Therefore, at times the noise was a bother.
More of a bother though, was the weather. It managed to rain nearly every day we were in the area. We did get lucky the day we went into Boston to tour the historic city. Our day was mixed with partly cloudy to fully overcast skies, but no rain. We really enjoyed doing the tourist thing and taking the trolley tour of the city. While there we even visited the USS Constitution, a must see while in Boston.
As I mentioned in my last update we came to Hanscom to visit friends in the area. Well, we accomplished that goal and had a great time in the process.
Chuck and Diane Haferman, the nurse couple who work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital entertained us in their RV prior to going out to dinner. We had a wonderful time with them sort of catching up on one another’s lives over the last umpteen years. We were able to only exchange pleasantries with them for the remainder of our stay at Hanscom as they would normally return from work prior to our getting out of bed in the morning. We usually were able to say hi and goodbye to them as they left for work in the evening.
We also spent a good bit of high quality time with some of our birding friends, Katherine and Marvin. We enjoyed and evening out with them as well as a road trip to visit another of the Loons and Larks, Marilyn in Francestown, New Hampshire. We had a great time although a relatively short visit.
Finally, we had dinner with a former boss of mine who retired from the Navy within the last few years and is now working for a defense contractor. Different from many retired Naval Officers, Mike is working in support of Department of Homeland Defense, instead of the Defense Department. Anyway, we had a great night out and caught up on the recent happenings of this very close friend.
We had intended to golf while in the area, but the weather won out and we had to shop instead.
Following Hanscom we returned to the Kittery area for one last round of visits to the orthodontist and hair salon. Of course that meant one final meeting with the folks with whom our lives were so closely entwined during our time in New England.
The two days and nights in the Kittery area were filled with farewells and good food. We went around the shipyard housing area saying goodbye to those neighbors who were available. The first night in town we ate at a neat little restaurant in South Berwick with two of my personal heroes from that last job and their husbands. The six of us had a great time pretending that it was just another night out. I don’t think any of us wanted to admit that it could be years before our paths cross again. At the end of the evening the other two husbands graciously allowed me to take a photo of “my girls” which included Connie and their two wives. There now exists a term for the relationship that developed in my office. That term is “Office spouse”. To the uninformed the term sounds a bit dangerous. To those who have their minds on the wrong side of the morality track it could sound downright illegal. The truth is that the relationship is first and foremost a platonic relationship. One recent morning Connie and I were watching the Today Show and they featured a segment on these types of relationships. Highlighting the piece was a couple who work in radio somewhere in the Midwest. They are each married and have families. However, their workday has them physically and to some extent emotionally very close to one another. Away from work the two couples spend a good deal of time together. Therefore, the spouses not only know the other person in the life of their spouse, but they also know the spouse of that person. I also believe there is a certain amount of professional synergy that is a result of these relationships. I suspect someone will some day write a book on the power of such relationships in the business world. I only bring it up here to help to explain the relationships I enjoyed in that last job. This last get together can best be described as a celebration of the end of the relationship. That is how it feels to me. Before posting this entry I sent it to my two work spouses and Connie and asked for their permission to publish it. I certainly would not want to ruin any friendships or marriages by a misunderstanding of my intent or of something I did not explain well. At any rate we had a great time even if there were four people reporting to work the next day without a full night’s sleep.
On the second night we returned to our favorite Kittery gathering place, Anneke Jan’s for one last dinner and a full evening of farewells with the owners, staff and other diners. As luck would have it we were seated at a four top table. That made it very convenient for people to sort of stop by and stay a few minutes. Soon after the salad course, Tim and Katherine, our immediate neighbors from the shipyard came in. While we lived next door to one another we never were able get our collective acts together well enough to go out together. So, when we saw them come in we invited them to join us. They did and we all had a delightful time sharing stories. As the evening progressed more and more of our friends and acquaintances came by giving us an opportunity to say good bye for now. By the time the evening was over, we were pretty well hugged out and ready to relax.
I dare say that we have made an art out of saying so long. We really have enjoyed this rather protracted departure from New England. It certainly has made the transition smoother and less of a shock.
June 30th found us on the road to Foster, RI where we would camp for two nights in order to attend the wedding of our dear friend Laura Roberts-Butler to Scott Morehead. Laura is a very creative and talented person. She wanted to make her wedding a fun and memorable event for all who were witness to it. She certainly achieved that goal. I will spare most of the details, but would like to try to leave a few visuals. First, she made her own invitations. They were fabulously designed and made. The very first thing you noticed when you got your invitation in the mail was the beautiful way she addressed them with a greatly oversized first letter of your last name that sort of transformed a plain envelope into a very specialized one just for the recipient. When you opened the card, a fancy lady’s hat popped out. At the bottom of the invitation, below the pop-out hat was an encouragement to the ladies to come in their most outrageous hat. Following the church ceremony they had a piper lead a parade of Bride, Groom and wedding goers from the church to their home which was only a few blocks away. The reception area was decorated with a variety of things, but some of the more memorable to me were the center pieces on each table. Laura had asked all of her married friends in the area to loan her the cake toppers from their wedding cakes. She made 16 center pieces using those cake toppers to top vases. It was sort of fun to walk around looking at all the centerpieces and trying to meet the owners. The food, drink and band were all just wonderful. It was a day we will not forget and we wish Laura and Scott all the happiness in the world.
We then spent the 2nd and 3rd on the road driving across Connecticut and Pennsylvania to get to Pittsburgh in time to celebrate our nation’s birthday with Connie’s sister and brother-in-law and their family. The drive was the hardest two day stretch we have endured since starting this adventure. We have had a few long drive days, but not two in a row. These were really long by our new driving standards. Complicating day one was our inability to find the campground we initially picked due to a road closure from the recent flooding. We drove a good 25 miles out of our way trying to circle in on the campground. A call to the campground for better detour instructions proved inadequate, so we finally abandoned the stop and went up the road to our next choice. As it worked out we spent nearly two extra hours on the road and yours truly was pretty darned grumpy by the time we were finally camped. To make an already bad situation a bit more uncomfortable, we arrived at the second choice campground in the rain. We were unable to get a pull through site, so we had to unhitch the car in the rain. Then we drove to our campsite only to find that it was in fact a pull through site. By the time we had shore services connected, the rain had stopped, so we reattached the car making it a little faster to get out in the morning. The second day of our trip was less stressful until close to the end. We chose the wrong route to get us from I-80 north of Pittsburgh to the Mt. Lebanon area in the southwest. As a result we drove some thirty or so miles on less than stellar roads with more twists and turns than a slinky. We finally made it to our destination without incident, but a bit towards the worn out side.
The Fourth of July was a rainy day in the Pittsburgh area. However, at the Slager home there was laughter and conversations too numerous to keep up with as all three of Barbara and Jim’s adult children and something like ten of their grandchildren/step-grandchildren plus spouses converged on their home to reunite and celebrate the birth of our country. It was a great day. For Connie and me it was a great opportunity to try to catch up on what all the grandchildren have been up to. Many have graduated from college and started lives of their own. So it was great fun learning how they are finding themselves in the world.
We will spend the rest of the week here and possibly the weekend before we start our southward drive to Florida to complete the process of establishing new residency.