The next morning, after a very good night of sleeping prompted by our long day out on Inis Mor, we had our traditional Irish breakfast and loaded up the van for a drive out on The Burren. The Burren is an expanse of land located in County Clare which varies widely in terrain and appearance. From a wind washed wasteland of limestone to lush and rich pastures and forests, there are many sites and attractions to fill a day.
Driving in Ireland is getting easier every time we go out. At this point, I am getting more comfortable recognizing road signs and navigating the narrow roads. I even announce to my patient passengers that I even feel comfortable to start using my rearview mirrors. The weather for the drive was definitely overcast, but the rain held off, so we were all happy with that.
Our first stop for the day was Saint Brigid's Well outside of Liscannor. The well, one of many dedicated to Saint Brigid (and perhaps the goddess Brigid even before that) in Ireland, draws many people who leave offering and tokens in hope of blessings and cures. An old graveyard is located just behind it and a monument to Cornelius O'Brien is located right beside it. The tall gray column of the monument is a good landmark for locating the well.
The next stop on our whirlwind tour was the Cliffs of Moher. A very beautiful natural site which was popularized as the "Cliffs of Insanity" in the movie The Princess Bride. The Cliffs tower 650 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular stop for many tour buses. When reading up on things to do and see in this region on the country, the Cliffs were popular for thrill-seekers who could crawl out to the edge and look over. I think this policy has changed recently as the Cliffs are becoming more commercialized. Barriers now prevent anyone from getting too close to the edge and injuring themselves (either accidentally or intentionally, the Cliffs are apparently a popular spot to off yourself as someone had done just weeks before). Despite the commercialization of this natural area, the Cliffs are still a breathtaking spot to take in the scenery and listen to the sounds of the ocean, seagulls, and puffins.
Feeling a bit hungry, we stopped for lunch at the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna. The tavern had some of the best pub food we had on the trip. We learned what a Bap was (an open-faced sandwich, usually hot, on a toasted bun), and the walls were decorated with an eclectic mixture of postcards and old product advertisements. Jen and I want to send them a postcard from Delta, OH. Perhaps they might hand it up and we can see it then next time we are there.
Continuing on, we headed down N-67 towards Newtown Castle. The 16th-century castle is now the location of the Burren College of Art but is still open to the public. The narrow winding staircase leads to different floors with various art exhibits. The Castle is located less than a kilometer from the R-480 intersection that leads to the Ailwee Caves.
The Ailwee Caves are a series of tunnels into the limestone terrain of the Burren and feature many natural formations like stalactites and other calcium formations. Definitely worth a look if you are in the area, they do have some very pretty formations. I would not say they are the best caverns I have seen (I still prefer the Ohio Caverns), it was a nice diversion and we were able to pick up some very nice gourmet cheese at a dairy shop located on the site (yes, I know, I don't know what gourmet cheese has to do with caverns, but this is Ireland so I don't question).
We wrapped up the day with a drive down R-480 back through Corrofin where we proceeded on to Ennis. The R-480 is a winding narrow road (what are the chances of that in Ireland) that carves through the more desolate section of the Burren. While beautiful in a wasteland-esq style, I could not imagine trying to live in that region. While we passed many ruins of churches and old castles, we wanted to see the Poulnabrone Dolman which was unfortunately closed to access while they were constructing a parking lot. I guess it is a very popular site and the narrow roads of the R-480 do not allow for you to just stop and see many of the sites without creating a minor traffic jam or accident.
Once back in Ennis, we had American style pizza for dinner (I know, kind of lame, but we wanted something cheap and it came recommended). That night we all went down to the pub for a few pints and dessert. The live music was exceptional and it was a great end to a wonderful day of sightseeing.
We woke a little early on Thursday (both out of choice and our brains still not processing local time correctly) to get a good start on the road to Rossaveel where we could catch a ferry to Inis Mor. Our travel package included breakfast at every location we were staying, so we headed to the main restaurant in the Old Ground hotel to load up on good food. The traditional Irish breakfast, which you can get at almost any hotel and B&B, usually consists of enough meat to provide you with a lot of energy for the day and clog your arteries at the same time. You will usually get bacon (rasher style, which resembles ham, only with a bit of spice/zest), sausage, mushrooms, eggs, and black & white pudding (not to be confused with chocolate and vanilla) which is a cooked sausage with other things like barley. Very tasty all around, and they also will usually have a very nice continental selection if meat is not your thing.
Feeling much better and more alert then Wednesday, we loaded up the van and headed on our way to Rossaveel to make the 10:30 AM ferry to Inis Mor. Rossaveel is about two hours from Ennis, which will vary if you get stuck behind a tour bus or tractor. Most Ireland roads are rural and very difficult to pass other vehicles on. This is a combination of the narrow width, multiple blind corners and turns, and unrealistic speed limits. The first delay of the day came when I miss-navigated a roundabout and headed on N18 the wrong way. Since it was under construction, a turn around could not be found for 15 kilometers which we lost about 20 minutes. Not a big deal, if we missed the 10:30 AM ferry, we could always catch the 1:00 PM. I blame this in part to still trying to convince my sub-conscious that it was, in fact, alright to drive on the left side of the road while still trying to decipher road signs.
Finally being pointed in the correct direction, we headed towards Galway where we would try to connect from N18 to the R336 which would take us to Rossaveel. This is where delay number two happened. If you will recall from my previous post, Ireland is not rich with road signs. The end result is that we found ourselves lost in a planned housing subdivision in Galway trying to find some road we could identify on our woefully inadequate street map. of the city. By chance again, we found a street sign pointing to the correct direction for R336 and we were once again back on the road. That little distraction would however prevent us from making the 10:30 AM ferry in Rossaveel. Resigned to the fact we had some time to kill, we decided to take a more leisurely drive down R336, stopping at some small towns along the way.
An SpidÃ©al was a quaint little Irish town that had a fresh produce stand where we loaded up on lunch items and snacks for our trip to Inis Mor. We took an opportunity to stroll around the grounds of the Cill Ã‰inde Church and out to the harbor of Galway Bay.
We pressed on and eventually came to Rossaveel. Being a bit early for the 1:00 PM sailing, we purchased our tickets and decided to drive around the peninsula through little towns like Costelloe and Carroroe. The ferry departed promptly for a forty-minute trek across Galway Bay the North Sound to Inis Mor and the town of Kilronan. The weather for ride over was spectacular. We had planned for rain but we're very pleased to be given sunny skies and mild temperatures. I had a conversation with a service station attendant earlier that day who said it had rained all winter but the past few weeks were just like that day. I took advantage of the crossing to go below and write out some postcards and enjoy being on the water again.
Once we arrived at Inis Mor, we opted to rent bikes to trek around the island. For those not feeling up to a bike ride, there are no shortages of buses, taxis and horse-drawn carriages to cart you around the island on impromptu tours to the major attractions. Just about anything on the island on wheels functions as a taxi. We stopped at the Aran Sweater Market first, I had my eye on purchasing a genuine Aran Islands sweater. The selection was overwhelming and the prices very reasonable for hand-knit items. I settled on a charcoal gray cardigan which will come in very handy next autumn and winter. After shopping, we stopped at the local grocery store for some additional lunch/picnic foods and continued our bike ride.
As a brief aside, I've been working out every morning since January on a recumbent exercise bike trying to lose weight and get in shape for all of the walking and activities we would be doing in Ireland. I should have prepared a bit more. The roads on Inis Mor are ridiculously steep and the island seems to just keep going uphill. Our goal was to cycle to Dun Aonghasa, a stone fort on a cliff wall on the south side of the island. After getting about halfway there, we figured there was no way we could get to the fort, have a picnic and make the 5:00 PM sailing which is the final sailing for the day. We were all opposed to being trapped on Inis Mor for the night, so we turned about and headed back to Kilronan to find a pub and have a pint (always a good idea on Ireland).
On the way, we did see some stunning views and ruins of churches and homes. We also passed a pony who seemed to be waiting for someone to come by and pet him. We obliged and took a bit of a breather before continuing on. On the return trip, we stopped at Joe Watty's for a pint of Smithwicks and some snacks. We also met the pub's local dog who was suitably named "Guinness". We also found the post office so we could send out postcards from the Aran Islands. Having a bit more energy from our uphill bike ride, we returned to the port a few minutes before the ferry started boarding. Anne and Roger, who are both in better shape then all of the rest of us combined, did make it to Dun Aonghasa and got some very nice pictures of the fort and cliff wall. They did admit they pushed themselves very hard to get there and back in time, so I don't feel too bad about not getting there.
The return trip to Ennis saw us lost briefly in Galway once again, but not nearly as bad as the morning drive out. We stopped in Gort (Klaatu barada nikto! If you have seen The Day The Earth Stood Still then ignore that reference) hoping to find a pub or restaurant only to see they roll the town up at 5:30 PM, so it was back to Ennis. Once safely back in the hotel, we found a Sicilian Restaurant in Ennis and ate some gourmet Italian style food with an Irish twist. Everyone was pretty dead tired at this point and turned in for the evening. Dave and I wanted to hear a little of the music being played in the hotel's pub that night, so we opted to have a seat and a pint for a while and take in the ambiance of a traditional Irish pub. Seating in the pub was somewhat limited due to the large crowd, so we sat with an older couple, John and Margaret, from Ireland and chatted the evening away. They were also on holiday, staying one night in Ennis before heading up to Connemara. The Irish love to chat, and if you are a foreigner, they want to know what you plan to see and will offer suggestions and insights into their country. This very moment in time was the Ireland I was looking for, the music was perfect, the company was very warm and friendly, it was the perfect end to the day.
After a year of planning and anticipating we finally began our travel to Ireland. We picked up Dave & Stephanie and proceeded to Detroit Metro Airport on Tuesday the 17th. Our flight departed on time to Chicago where we rendezvoused with Anne and Roger who were connecting from Baltimore. The flight from Chicago to Dublin is approximately eight hours with a few hours layover before a short hop to the Shannon airport. My plan was to get as much sleep on the plane as possible so I would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we arrived at Shannon the next day at 10:00 AM. That plan worked in some capacity, but the excitement of our first European trip was preventing me from getting any meaningful sleep (having the food cart on the plane slammed into my elbow and being bumped persistently because I was in an aisle seat didn't help either). Our trans-Atlantic flight went pretty well, although we were delayed leaving Chicago by two hours due to luggage sorting issues and backups in general when we missed our take-off window. We were also delayed in Dublin while they cleaned the plane and had us fill out customs forms.
Once in Shannon, we acquired our rental cars, a minivan and a sedan, which I opted to upgrade to an automatic transmission. It's been over 15 years since I have driven a manual transmission, and while it's a lot like riding a bike (from what I've been told), I did not want to re-learn driving a manual transmission on a minivan with everything located on what would be the passenger side of the vehicle while also trying to remind myself to drive on the left side of the road all on only a few hours of sleep. I'm fairly certain I would have burned through a whole clutch by the end of the trip, photos to come will show why.
My idea of a minivan and Europe's idea of a minivan was the first culture shock of the day. Keeping in mind all vehicles in Europe are smaller and more efficient then what we see in America, the minivan is no exception. We rented an Opel Zafira which was about as big as my Kia Spectra, but manages to fit six people. Since we had luggage we also rented a second car which was a Ford Focus. It was a fun little van to drive and in my search for an image the first one to come up in Google was this one which made Jen and I laugh hysterically. Truth be told, there are many car makes and models which are very popular in Ireland which would never see the light of day in America, where bigger and less efficient seem to be status quo.
After saying a few prayers to miscellaneous deities, we engaged the transmission (once I figured out how to use an auto-stick transmission and disengage the emergency brake) and proceeded to Ennis. If you have never driven a car in the UK or Ireland, then I will try to relate my experience with the first few moments:
Once that was over, we managed to exit the Airport and find our route to Ennis. Fortunately, we were able to drive the N18, one of Ireland's handful of multi-lane motorways, for a good portion of the drive. This allowed me to get accustomed to the controls of the van and convince my jet-lagged subconscious that it was, in fact, alright to drive on the left side of the road. Thus completing culture shock number two for the day.
The next shock was not far behind. This came in the form of Ireland's roadways. There are many things we take for granted in America, some of them being street signs, sane speed limits, lanes a few feet wider than the car your driving, intersections with stoplights, and consistent speed limit and route signs. Ireland, I have recently learned, likes to preserve the integrity of its old-world charm and scenery and does not necessarily feel obligated to put up things like street signs in a consistent manner. They might be on the side of a building (if one exists on the corner of an intersection) or a fence or curb in no consistent style or font or language (some in Gaelic or English or both). Most rural routes are 100 Km/h which is about 60 miles/h. While that might not sound terribly fast, some photos I will post in the coming days will show that is near impossible to attain that speed. That's not to say that people won't try though. That may explain the staggering number of accidents that occur in the country every year, but I digress. Ireland also uses the system of round-a-bouts to connect roads instead of intersections. This definitely took some getting used to, but I see the advantage of them.
We traveled through a few small towns before reaching Ennis in County Clare. We could only assume it was Ennis since there was no grand sign welcoming visitors to Ennis, at least not one that was obvious. This brought about the first adventure of the day. Anne and Roger were following us in the sedan and we got separated at a traffic light coming around a sharp corner on the outskirts of Ennis. There was absolutely no place for me to pull over until they could catch back up, so we proceeded to try to find the hotel knowing they would be fine on their own. Ennis is a wonderfully charming and old town, meaning the roads a very narrow, usually one-way, and missing any kind of signs or indicators. We drove from one end of the town to the other with no success in finding O'Connell Street. We finally asked a few people walking where we could find our hotel. In a very thick accent, which my jet-lagged brain was having trouble comprehending, they pointed us in a general direction. We knew the hotel was across the street from the cathedral which was plainly visible from almost every point in town, but finding a road that led to it was proving to be a challenge. By chance, we made a few turns and wound up at the beginning of O'Connell Street. Please refer to some photos which show just how narrow this road is. Thankfully, it is only one-way as it's usually very crowded, especially during the lunch hours when we arrived. We managed to find some hotel parking after the lunch crowd vacated it's restaurants and got checked into our rooms. As we were parking the car, we met up with Anne and Roger who had also found the hotel despite being separated from us earlier, which probably worked to their advantage anyhow.
The Old Ground Hotel is a wonderful old ivy-covered building with grand rooms and lounge areas. After the long flight and shock of learning to drive in Ireland, it was pleasant to finally relax a bit and focus on more important things like food. After freshening up a bit, we strolled down O'Connell street checking out the menus of the many pubs and restaurants. We decided on Brogan's Tavern which was a short walk from the hotel. We had a pretty good pub grub style lunch (hot sandwiches and chips which we know as fries).
Feeling refreshed, we wandered around Ennis a bit more. The tourist information center in Ennis has a great gift shop and is also attached to the Clare Museum. The museum has many artifacts and cultural information regarding the heritage of the area. The museum is free and worth a look. Don't forget to check out the Bog Butter exhibit. The museum gave us some inspiration and ideas of places to visit while we were in that region, and we also were able to get sailing times for the Aran Islands which we also wanted to see. Ennis also has a very nice river walk area just east of the town center, with many sculptures and a variety of waterfowl which make it their home.
Jet lag and sleep deprivation finally got the better of us, as well as many of the shops closing by 5:30 PM, so we headed back for the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. The Old Ground hotel has a great little pub called the Poet's Corner which has a very nice menu selection. Dinner for myself was a pint of Guinness (it's Ireland, what do you expect) some seafood chowder and poached salmon.
We slept in until about 8:00 am, but had some chores to address before we could abandon the house for a few days. We eventually hit the road about 11:30 am or so, but since the Friday night play was not until 8:00 pm, we had plenty of time to make our way there. And it's a good thing as I was not expecting the ridiculous amount of road construction on every major highway in Michigan. I only have myself to blame for this, I should have checked the MDOT web site for current road construction areas, I should have double-checked my maps.google.com directions and mapquest or some other service, I should have partially sedated myself, the list goes on. In my own defense, I was really not expecting to have several major on-ramps to I-94 closed for construction. We did get a nice detour through the ghetto, saw several hookers and gangsta looking folk, and after about 45 minutes, found an entrance ramp to I-94 that wasn't closed.
The rest of the drive was uneventful, we crossed into Canada at Port Huron and got the usual grilling from the Canadian border officers, but no cavity searches, so that was good. I am always surprised how much the Canadian countryside (at least Ontario) resembles Ohio...flat with lots of farm fields and cows. We finally got to Stratford about 4:30 pm or so and check into the Festival Inn. It's a nice hotel which we've stayed at several times before, but a few minutes away from downtown. I think the next time we go I'll have to investigate some of the downtown hotels. It would be nice to park the car for the weekend, yet still be in walking distance to all the shops and theaters.
After a quick rest, we cleaned up from the road trip and decided to find a restaurant before the 8:00 pm show. One of the nicer, yet not too expensive, restaurants Stratford has to offer is The Annex Room. They serve a variety of cuisine with a nice selection of seafood. The portions are also human-sized versus, oh say, velociraptor size you get in most restaurants in the States. I recommend the salmon as well as the chocolate mousse for dessert...very decadent...
The play for Friday night was Shakespeare's The Tempest in the Festival Theater. We always try to pick at least one Shakespeare production each time we go, as well as at least one play in the Festival Theater. The theater itself is a thing of beauty, as well as the gardens and the view of the river. The play was spectacular. The part of Prospero was played by veteran actor William Hutt who did a wonderful job of bringing the character to life. The actress who played Miranda also did a great job, bringing a noteworthy amount of humor as a love-stricken teen-age girl seeing other men for the first time. The whole play was well done and the costume designs were spectacular. As an added bonus, while leaving the theater we got additional laughs walking behind the most cantankerous curmudgeon who complained about the whole production and how Shakespeare should have never written such tripe. As we thoroughly enjoyed the production, it gave us both a good laugh hearing him complain...he must have been disturbed by the skimpy outfits of the dancers playing the nymphes...
The evening was rounded out by a glass of wine from the hotel bar/pub while we recalled our favorites scenes and discussed our plans for Saturday.
Saturday: places to see in Stratford.
The hotel restaurant had a rather nice selection for a breakfast buffet, so we took advantage of that before heading into downtown Stratford for a day of shopping before our next play at 8:00 pm. There are lots of little specialty shops in the downtown area, and you could easily spend a day browsing the stores and art galleries. We purchased some souvenirs and other trinkets. Jen bought me a sundial, what I'll actually call a stardial, as it's designed to tell time at night by lining up Polaris with Dubhe (the north most star of Ursa Major). It's a necklace pendant with constellations engraved in the back. It is a very attractive piece that is uber-geeky. Jen picked up a sundial ring for herself, so we should be covered for telling time except if it's cloudy or twilight...
Lunch was had at Molly Bloom's Irish Pub. Fish & Chips and a Guinness was the order of the day, although Jen had a chicken wrap as Haddock will kill her. We hit up a few more stores after, had some ice cream down by the river, then proceeded back to the hotel to relax/nap before the 8:00 pm play. We found a great little restaurant called Garlic's, right across from the Avon Theater, while exploring the area. Though we didn't have reservations, they were able to get us in. Not being particularly famished, we split an Alaskan crab pizza, some wine, and a brandied peach and gingerbread dessert that broke the sink...
The Saturday play was Fallen Angels at the Avon Theater. This was a comedy from the mid-1920s dealing with two female friends who have settled into a comfortable life of marriage only to find a mutual romantic man from their past comes to visit. It was a delightful production with costume and set design from the period it was written. The second scene was especially funny and we found ourselves anxiously checking our watches during the second intermission so we could see how it ended. A very funny production I would pay to see again if it were done locally. Being wiped out from a day of shopping, laughing, and fine dining, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep...
Sunday: Homeward bound, Michigan road work strikes back
After a great time, it was time to head home. The trip was wonderful, the weather was great, but it was time to get home and tend to the bunnies. All went well until we exited I-94 to I-75 South. We saw several signs indicating I-75 was down to one lane between Dixie Hwy and Toledo. That's 40 miles of stop and go traffic and that would not due. We managed to get to and exit and on to US-24 for a somewhat longer ride home, but finally escaping the evil clutches of the Michigan highway system.
What a wonderful trip to Maine we had! We arrived home safely around 7:00 pm sans luggage, I guess it decided to hang around in Cincinnati a bit longer this afternoon, but is expected to be delivered to our home around midnight. No big deal there...nothing I really need in the short term...
Thursday started out very well. I was able to score airline tickets out of Toledo Express rather than Detroit Metro. It meant a connecting flight in Cincinnati, but when I can park my car and be checked in with boarding passes in under five minutes, and be through security in under four minutes, it's usually well worth a few extra bucks...although it was cheaper to leave out of Toledo this time which does happen. The flights were uneventful and we had pretty clear skies on the way out. I booked Jen a window seat, but I think she got a stiff neck from looking around for hours.
We arrived in Portland, ME around 1:00 pm or so, procured our rental car, and pressed on to Brunswick. We had a bit of time to kill before the Pre-Reception meet-n-greet scheduled for that night, so we had lunch at Eggspectations (yummy smoked salmon omelet) and scoped out Cabot Mills antiques, a nice multi-vendor antique store with about 140 vendors/displays...I regret not buying the stuffed beaver...it would have been a great conversation piece in my new office...
That evening, the VP-10 had a pre-reception at a local tavern in downtown Brunswick. It's a chance to meet the outgoing CO, the incoming CO and XO and usually the JO's and the honored speaker. It was also an opportunity to meet my brother's girlfriend and her two kids. She is a very nice person and I'm relieved to see he's found someone stable who makes him smile. The tavern had an open bar and a great spread of food, including giant bacon-wrapped sea scallops. Yes, bacon-wrapped! I didn't think you could make sea scallops any tastier...apparently you can wrap them in bacon for a whole new dynamic...
Friday was the actual CoC for VP-10. We got ourselves all gussied up and headed down to the Naval Airstation. The had a pre-ceremony breakfast in their briefing room which was a nice opportunity to chat with the friends and families of the various officers. It is also an opportunity to see how much respect my brother received from everyone. He has really worked his ass off in the Navy, and as a direct result his name is said with much respect around Reconnaissance Wing 5. The wife of his XO, now the new CO, put together a wonderful scrapbook of photos and news articles covering his command for the past year. She even used one of his old flight suits as the cover of the book. It was very impressive and you can tell they put a lot of time into it. The ceremony itself is something you have to witness to appreciate. The stage is flanked by two of the P3C aircraft and all Navy personnel are in their dress whites. It is also a time to acknowledge all the accomplishments of the CO over the past year, and there where many. I don't get much insight into the professional life of my brother, as he is a very busy man, but he has accomplished a significant amount in the past year including winning an award for excellence in ASW (anti-submarine warfare) tactics.
After the ceremony, they cut the official cake (mmmmmm, official cake) and had a nice luncheon for the officers and families. We only had a small amount of food as we had greater plans for lunch. We ducked out after a few minutes and ran back to the hotel to get more casual. The destination was Wiscasset, the place was Red's Eats. This place really does have the best lobster rolls in all of Maine. More than a whole lobster worth of meat, drenched in butter and served on a toasted bun...you simply cannot imagine how good this is...After indulging in our lobster rolls we drove down to Portland to see a lighthouse (we are in Maine after all) and see the ocean. We decided to check out the Portland Head Lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth, just south of Portland. Everyone raved about this lighthouse and its museum and gift shop. Unfortunately for us, it was surrounded by scaffolding and tarps as it was being repainted in preparation for the tourist season...it was more comical then disappointing. The nice thing was that the park it was located in also had some ruins of an old military battery and the ruins of an old Spanish style mansion (Jen has pictures I'm sure she'll post soon). It also has a small cave where you could walk down to the ocean. Jen took advantage of this and kicked off her shoes and dipped her toes in the ocean. It lasted only a few seconds before she realized her toes were going numb from the cold...but she had a smile on her face so I know she enjoyed herself.
We explored and took lots of pictures, but we had to start heading back to Brunswick. The family wanted to assemble for dinner and my brother knew just the place. He suggested we meet at Cooks Lobster House on Bailey Island, south of Brunswick. It was a spectacular drive down to the island as we were basically on a peninsula with water either side. The bridge to Bailey Island was a crib-stone construction which amazes me that it's still standing. The engineer in me knows how the weight is distributed, but to actually see one in use is entirely different! The restaurant was equally amazing. The food was the best seafood I've had in Maine. I would highly recommend this if you are ever in the midcoast section of Maine. We dined and laughed and had a wonderful time. I said my goodbyes to my brother as he and his girlfriend were going north for a few days of vacation before he has to pack up his house and be re-deployed for another year.
Today was a travel day. It was nice to be able to sleep in though. I managed a late enough flight out of Portland so that we could sleep in and take our time getting to the airport. My two sisters were also leaving around the same time (although to different locations) so we had a chance to chat with them before leaving Maine. So today we are home again and I'm already excited about our next trip in two weeks to Stratford for a couple of plays!