Sunday Sept 29, 2013

Hard to believe, but the show is pretty much over. The fat lady hasn’t sung (not sure if she’s going to), but we’ve done everything we planned to do (plus some!) in North America.

Believe it or not, we’re actually in the air right now, flying over New York State on the first leg of our homeward journey. We’re doing 524 mph, it’s a chilly -48 degrees Fahrenheit outside our Virgin America A320, and I hope to email this to you shortly from 34,000 feet. So keep your seat-belt done up while I try to recall what’s happened since we last spoke …

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ON FRIDAY MORNING … (I think it was?) we went ashore by tender (lifeboat) and spent the last full day of our cruise exploring “one of the most beautiful places in North America” (according to my travel book). Bar Harbour, in Maine, USA, is famous for its stunning summer ‘cottages’ (try ‘mansions’) from America’s Golden Age … its mouth-watering lobster rolls and clam chowders … and its Acadia National Park, with some 200 kms of ocean and mountain trails and oh-so-glorious views.

We saw it all – from 360º views up the top of rock-strewn Cadillac Mountain, to a trapping demo by a local lobster expert. And, on the way, we eyeballed our first moose (okay, I cannot lie – he was made of bronze) … and we witnessed, finally, some of the gorgeous autumn foliage that attracts ‘leaf-peepers’ from all around the world.

I say ‘finally’ because, as it turned out, we actually arrived a couple of weeks too early. But the past two days have made up for that, and we’ve been busily aiming our cameras at some of the ‘fall colours’ (rich yellows and golds and oranges and reds) that, by the middle of next month, will set this entire region ablaze.

That evening, as we sailed out through a stunning Bar Harbour sunset, we enjoyed our final at-sea dinner aboard the Maasdam – and I thought you might like a squizz at the extremely limited four-course menu:

Appetisers:       Latin-America-Style Gravlax

Vietnamese Spring Roll with Chicken

Mediterranean Mezze Plate

Brie in Crispy Phyllo with Apple-Cranberry Chutney

Soups/Salads:  Argentinian Guiso

Shiitake Salad with Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette

Scandinavian-Style Seafood & Potato Chowder

Chilled Pumpkin Soup

Main:                Bourbon Glazed Beef with Portabello Mushrooms

Poblano Stuffed Chicken Breast

Wattleseed Roasted Duck with Apricots

Tofu & Vegetable Korma

Lebanese Lamb Shank

Asparagus & Cheese Risotto with Sautéed Cod

Sautéed Shrimp Provencal

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage & Escarole

Dessert:            The ‘Big Apple’ Shortcake

Kiwi & Passionfruit Pavlova

Mohr Im Hemd (Warm Chocolate Nut Sponge)

Baked Alaska

As you can see, it’s been a tough life, this cruising, and we Mad Midlifers haven’t had a thing to eat for at least 15 minutes …

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YESTERDAY MORNING … after unloading bags and bodies off our floating hotel, we headed out through Boston’s countryside to the historic towns of Cambridge, Lexington and Concord (the birthplace of American Independence) … following the autumn-leafy route that Paul Revere took as he warned local rebels that “the British are coming!”

Along the way we roamed Lexington Green (where 77 Minutemen stood their ground against 700 of England’s finest Redcoats) … viewed some re-enacted battle scenes … and spotted the homes of Nathaniel Hawthorne (gothic novelist), Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women), and Ralph Waldo Emerson (essayist and poet).

Then, following lunch downtown at Boston’s colourful, crowded Quincey Market, we continued sightseeing in this magnificent city … eyeballing the restored sailing ship, USS Constitution … and ending our day with a meander through Harvard University grounds and Beacon Hill (an old-money ultra-posh suburb).

We shared a Midlife Madness Farewell Dinner last night at McCormick & Schmicks … did lots of reminiscing … and tried not to get all sad and weepy. But, the fact is, our Midlife Madness cruise/tour is, sadly, over – and the final chapter of our North American adventure has been written.

However, no one can complain. We’ve had a BALL, we truly have! We’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much and laughed so much that we don’t know where to put it all!

We’ll never forget our lovely long weeks in this beautiful part of the world … and we’ll never forget each other …


PEOPLE NEWS: The last of our Lucky Quacky Yellow Duckies have finally been handed out to delighted recipients:

  • The ‘Last-of-the-Big-Spenders Award’ went to Jeanette – whose only expenditure on our two cruises were for a couple of postage stamps on the Volendam, and three of the little licky-stickers on the Maasdam. Go Jeanette!
  • The ‘Dying for a Ducky Award’ went to Anne – who has longed for and lusted after one of our hotly sought-after awards with such patience and long-suffering that we finally had to give in. (You should’ve seen the smile on Anne’s face!)
  • The ‘I’ve-Gotta-Get-The-Blood-Out-Of-My-Coffee-Stream Award’ went to Bill – who has managed, somehow, with commendable passion and perseverance, to track down the very best coffee in each of our stopovers throughout North America for the past three-and-a-half weeks.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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