Family ties, reinforced with duct tape

What better way to celebrate the completion of five months of retirement than with a Cinco de Mayo (5/5) celebration with five of your favorite relatives.  And since we are on a roll with fives–after we all got together, it took my sisters, cousins and me approximately five minutes to get into the party mode.   For one weekend, we were carefree–no husbands, kids, grandchildren, parents to take care of, no work or responsibilities.  To paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, we were girls that “just want to have fu-un”.

Although my sisters and I have always been close, we cousins recently rediscovered how much we enjoy each others company.   I’m sure Grammy was looking down at her six granddaughters, watching us raise our glasses of Bloody Marys in a toast to her, the original “Proud Mary”, and wishing she was there with her flask of blackberry brandy.

The Wyndham Resort in Hancock, Ma. was the perfect setting for our weekend together.  It had it all–beautiful scenery, two bathrooms, not too many other guests, and just the right level of activities.   We managed to take full advantage of everything the resort had to offer:  Pool, sauna, hot tub, karaoke, exercise room.

But the activity that was the most fun, or at least produced the most laughs, was the duct tape wallet caper.

Even after seeing the craft room, and the bemused looks on the faces of the two (age appropriate) little boys in the class, we were NOT dissuaded.

The instructor, on the other hand, felt we should move to a larger table (and to larger chairs).  Was it because my sister laughed hysterically at the sight of me sitting with my knees touching my ears or was the instructor worried that SHE might have to  extract me from that seat?

Once we stopped laughing, we became intensely focused on the task at hand.  Who knew duct tape came in so many varieties?  This was clearly an educational weekend.

We were rightfully proud of our finished products!  What’s next?  Duct tape evening gowns? Duct tape sombreros?? Duct tape canoes???  The possibilities are endless.  Whether the folks back home will be equally impressed is questionable…

Not content to depend solely on the resort for activities, Lissy and Lindy created their own.  I don’t think the Wyndham expected pinatas to be suspended from their balcony.  Fortunately, we had that area all to ourselves.

You can see from the blur, that Lindy gave the pinata a mighty bash, but it STILL held together.  Doesn’t she remind you of Luke Skywalker wielding the light sword (or whatever it was called)?

But wait.  Look at Sue and Sandy in the photo below.  Could there have been some cheating going on?  I count two hands on that pinata stick…and one hand belongs to someone who is NOT wearing a blindfold!

“The Sombrero Sisters”, as we were affectionately dubbed by Paul, the Karaoke master, had worked up a powerful hunger with all that activity, so off we went to the local restaurant.   Looks like the seating plan was  blondes (Lindy, Kristy and Sue) on the left, brunettes (Lissy, me and Sandy) on the right.

Time for me to bid my sisters a fond farewell, as the Massachusetts contingent heads home on Sunday morning.  (How did Lindy manage to escape this photo-op?)

The Jersey girls were determined to make the most of what was left of the day, starting with a visit to a local winery, which was also a cider mill and an apple farm.

What goes with wine?  Why ice cream, of course.  Sundaes, to be exact, from Gardiner’s Ice Cream stand, coffee shop, miniature golf course and driving range.   Places in the Hancock area appear to be multifunctional. 

They didn’t have the kind of nuts that Lis wanted so our new friend made up for it with extra toppings.  Yikes.

The Hancock area is truly beautiful, and we were fortunate enough to have wonderful weather.  On a day like that, even dandelions looked amazing!

Kristy, the “baby” of the group, and mother of three, returned home, leaving me and Lis to experience one last activity–a property walk up the ski slopes with Paul, the karaoke master and snow board instructor.   Like the businesses, the people are also multifunctional up here.

What’s left to say, except:

What about you?  What do you do to reconnect with family and your childhood?

Travel, the gift that keeps on giving

I love traveling.  I love phase one: thinking about places to visit, planning the trip, learning the history and culture, and deluding myself into thinking that I might actually learn a little of the language.

I love phase two: experiencing the actual adventure, which is frequently different from what I had envisioned…not better, not worse, just different.

And I love phase three:  creating the photo book or slide show (or both) of the trip, so that I can relive the experiences over and over, whenever I want. If I’m lucky, in addition to the memories, I end the trip with some new friends

The VBT (Vermont Bike trip) was particularly noteworthy because our entire group was so  very compatible.  And I have been VERY lucky, because that trip was the beginning of several new friendships.

Recently Jim alerted us that Damjan, one of our guides, was in New York City.  Jim’s daughter not only showed Damjan around, but also lent him a bike.  As luck would have it, Diane was up from Boston visiting her daughter, so I made the trip from New Jersey and we all gathered for drinks at the Waldorf=Astoria (No, that is not a typo.  That’s the official name.  Don’t ask me why.)

Here we are, standing in front of the very famous clock, in the lobby.  Notice the white shawl I am carrying.  Before the night was over, I managed to spill a full glass of red wine on it, but that’s another story for another time.

The plaque on the base (quoted below) provides almost everything you need to know about the clock:

“The Waldorf Astoria Clock was executed by the Goldsmith Company of London for exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It was purchased by the Waldorf Astoria and was the focal point outside the Rose Room of the original hotel at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. This clock weighs approximately two tons and stands nine feet tall. Around the eight sides of the base are likenesses of Cleveland, Harrison, Washington, Grant, Lincoln, Franklin, Jackson and Queen Victoria. Under these are bronze plaques depicting various sports and scenes. Westminster chimes ring on the quarter hour.”

It doesn’t mention what WE observed to be the most important feature.  But don’t worry, we captured it.

Tribute to bikers

After drinks,  we went to Tutuma social club, a restaurant with Peruvian-African jazz.  In keeping with our VBT tradition, I photographed the food, which every bit as good as it looked.

We ended the night with fond farewells to Damjan, who was wrapping up his whirlwind tour of the USA and heading to Paris for a VBT meeting with the other tour guides.

Our next VBT trip will be to Italy, next June.  So far, Diane, Karen, Sally and I have all signed up and Phase One for that trip is currently under way.