Europe Day 1-2

This is a series of mobile honeymoon blogs/journals posted from wherever we can find wifi access in Europe. Please excuse any misspellings or errors. The WordPress mobile app isn’t great.

“Silence felt like land in a sea of screams.”

2015-09-07 1925 redeye transatlantic flight, BWI -> REYKJAVIK -> DUBLIN
-> Day 1-2

We are really, really awful at planning things ahead of time (alternate excuse: we’re all planned out from having just planned a wedding). We have also never traveled international before. You’ve seen scenes in movies and TV where people sprint down the terminal to board a flight that is beyond final call. That was us. We hadn’t thought through the day properly and we hadn’t slept well in a few weeks, so we ended up leaving home late. It was our own fault. Erin’s mom drove as fast as she could through Baltimore Labor Day weekend traffic. We pulled in to the airport and found the ticketing gate with nobody working there, only a sign that read that they had closed 10 minutes prior. It was our worst fear. Their 800 number was a pre-recorded message. What do we do.

We asked at another airline and he said they had just left. Somehow that amazing man contacted the airline and someone came out to see us. We pleaded our hardest and pulled the “we’re on our honeymoon” card. She explained that the flight log was already closed. I begged her to call anyone that might be able to make an exception. Our fate was completely in her hands. Her name was Susan. She disappeared. What felt like ages but was probably only 1 or 2 minutes later, Jay appeared. He said that he shouldn’t be doing this but they made an exception for us because we’re on our honeymoon. I thank him and apologize and cannot express how grateful we are. He boots up the ticketing console and scans our passports. We have tickets. We thank the two of them. It was hard to read their emotions. They probably thought we were idiots. Thank you Susan and Jay. We ran.

Security scans went smoothly somehow. There were only a few people in line and we took off our traveling shoes before they had even checked our tickets. We got x-rayed. We survived. We didn’t have any bombs. I think we put on our shoes and belts and somehow grabbed our bags and tickets and passports. We sprinted.

We got to the gate. They said they were closing. They said they had called for us. We said sorry. We ducked under the queue barrier, scanned our tickets, and rolled down the ramp. BWI staff was amazing. They said there were still a few people waiting in line to get on the plane. I held my breath as we ran to the bottom of the boarding ramp. We boarded. We did it. How.

We squeezed each of our carry-on bags into the overhead compartments. We could finally relax for a nice quick flight through Iceland to Dublin. We took off on time. The sunset was incredible. It is completely new from that altitude. You can see the curve of the earth and the colors spread out beyond imagination.

One hour in. Erin was the row behind me. I was next to a baby and her mother. Things were okay. I was re-reading the start of the first GOT book for the third or fourth time. I’ve never finished it. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty or sick. I had only eaten breakfast up to this point. I wasn’t sure why. We should have planned better. At this point I’d rather wait for an authentic Irish breakfast than pay for microwaved airline food.

Two hours in. I started feeling tired. It was dark out and I kept looking at the stars and watching tiny ant sized boats float by. I think there was either an aircraft carrier envoy or some sort of island below us. Airplanes are cool. Most people were settling in to sleep. I tried to shut my eyes. The screaming began.

Prior to this, I could not have imagined that a baby could scream continually for hours. Now I know that this is a thing. Other passengers stared at our row. The flight attendants kept stopping by to check in and offer crayons or toys. Nothing worked. I was okay. You can’t blame a mother traveling alone or a tiny baby for crying. It was tough. Everyone was trying to sleep. There were blood curdling screams in my ears. There would be a few momentary pauses, but then she started right up again. At this point I wasn’t planning to get any more sleep. When I first tried to sleep, I think I had passed out for 20 or 30 minutes,  because I woke up and my contacts burned and my overhead light was off. It was 2250 in my home time. I’ve never experienced jet lag, but I’m starting to imagine how miserable I’ll be on Tuesday morning when we land at 05something local time and we have to stay up until the evening. Time travel is hard.

Throughout this entire ordeal I tried not to move or interfere. I didn’t want to make it worse. I really wanted the flight attendants to read my mind and bring me a complimentary scotch, neat. The screams hurt. I could ignore most of them, but then something would change in the baby brain and the screams would worsen.

2320. Quiet. The baby is staring at me. What do I do. Erin poked me. She said the flight is miserable. She pokes me again. Aurora boureilis is our the window. That is the first incredible experience we’ve had and we aren’t even in Europe yet. I’ve never been far north enough to see our sun’s radiation bounce off the upper atmosphere. Wow. The baby is still staring at me. I try to take some pictures of the sky. It’s unbelievable. Is the baby staring at me or out the window? The Northern Lights are now spread across the entire northern horizon. The baby is definitely staring at me sleepily. It’s quiet. I can see so many stars.

The colors in the sky fade. It’s 2340. The baby is finally asleep. It was an experience that makes me never want to bring our future children on an airplane. How can one little baby make so many people so miserable. I don’t want to move or think about how badly I have to pee. I will not disturb the baby. It’s for the common good.

0030. I can see the palest grey of a sunrise on the horizon. I’m trying to sleep and all I can think about are scenes from Donnie Darko, which I haven’t seen in years. Also considering writing a song about Oxford commas. Also missing my band and thinking about what our best show was. It might have been our first show in fall 2010 when we opened for Jenny and Tyler.

We start our descent. Wow Air got us to Keflavik. We wait for our connection to Dublin. It has been a day.

Thanks Debbie for driving us to the airport at questionable speeds and for putting up with us. You’re awesome.

Let’s talk about packing. We each brought a single carry-on for our 17 day trip. Hopefully that works out. The single most important item that I wanted to bring was missing – my usb charger battery. Help. It was supposed to be my backup plan/insurance that we could always somehow get Internet access and not worry about finding outlets to charge with. I grabbed an older and smaller one before we left, but I still haven’t seen my big one since before the wedding.

We measured our suitcases the night before the trip and realized that they were just over the limits for most of our European flights. Oops. We got decent one from TJ Maxx for $40 each. They were small clam shell style bags that would force us to take only what we needed. We had a luggage scale and kept weighing the bags. When we ran through check in, I assume the staff saw that we just had tiny carry ons, because they did not end up weighing them. Meh.

I have a DSLR but didn’t want to travel with something that bulky in Europe, so I added a fancy Canon point & shoot to our wedding registration. Luckily someone got it for us (thanks!) and we were able to bring that along, so hopefully we’ll get some decent photos.

The only other important thing I packed was our itinerary/flight confirmations and our power adapter. I have like five days worth of clothes and some single load tide laundry detergent packs. I have a lightweight, unfashionable, waterproof spring jacket. Erin bought a fashionable travel jacket that doesn’t look as waterproof. I’d rather be dry than look good. I wore the jacket, jeans, a t-shirt, and lightweight leather boots. I packed some sneakers and shorts and shirts, along with clean socks and underwear. We’ll see how this all works out.

That was all written on the flight. We landed in Dublin and got on a bus to where our Air BnB host was meeting us. I didn’t know until then that we didn’t have an address to go to, just an intersection. We waited and eventually Gill found us. She showed us the apartment and then Erin and I went out to grab some breakfast. It was delicious Irish food, exactly what I had been waiting for. We took a quick nap, looked around the city some, then settled down at a pub for some dinner (Irish stew + stout) and to watch the England v Switzerland football match. It was one of the longest days of my life. We found our way home and fell asleep immediately.



maine, again

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foggy sailin'

My friend Erin asked me to join her family on vacation in Maine this week. I saw this wonderful state for the first time in June on my epic road trip with Cara, so I jumped at the chance to come back up and stay in a cabin and work on writing and recording new music for our duet formerly known as The Honey Badgers (side note: we need a new name that isn’t stupid, so let us know if you have any cute suggestions). We left late Thursday evening (after Jefe), and Erin drove through the night until we stopped for sleepin’ in Connecticut. We got up early and her dad drove the rest of the way into Maine. Friday we got to bike around and explore the Boothbay area and eat pizzer and ice cream and drink local beers nom.

Saturday we got up really early (7am in vacation time) and went down to the docks with Erin’s Uncle Ben to fetch his boat. This thing was a fancy 21′ powerboat with a shiny wakeboard tower on top. It didn’t fit in too well with the other wonderful sailboats that surrounded it, but she sure did go fast. We stayed in the tiny bay waterskiing and wakeboarding and waiting for the fog to burn off. It never really did, but we decided to go on a risky island adventure anyway, using my phone GPS to navigate (the captain didn’t have a compass on board >.<).

We went about six miles out to this magical state-owned nature preserve island called Damariscove Island. The caretakers were the only two people who lived there. Apparently they have a non-native European Fire Ant infestation that some unknowing European perhaps brought in on their feet. Sad story. Ants. Honey badgers.

The north side of the island is reserved for birds only (jealous), so we hiked a couple miles on the south side around the freshwater pond. There were lots of ruins from past ages of inhabitants, both people and cows. It was a fishin’ and lobsterin’ base for a while, and before that lots of colonial-type people lived there, and before that some injuns went there to fish occasionally. Anyway, it was beautiful and the hike was nice and there were lots of rocks and berries and sea tomatoes. As we left the harbor to return home, but before I had booted up my gps to check where we were going, the captain (Uncle Ben) somehow got turned around and was heading back towards the island as soon as we had passed the safety buoy that warns of shallow rocky waters. Moments after I realized this and told him, we heard a very nasty sounding crunch come from the propeller hitting a rock shelf. We all winced. The turning maneuver was almost complete, but we started to lose speed. The engine was still running, but we weren’t accelerating. This was bad news since we were starting to drift towards the island and the rocky waters around it. Tom and I started to paddle as Ben dove under to check the propeller. She looked fine, but something in the transmission/drive shaft must have been knocked around because she wasn’t spinnin’ at all. Luckily the tide was going in and pulling us towards the mainland, but we were still six miles out at sea ): View a map down below. Damariscove Island has the marker on it:

Damariscove Island is in the south with the marker..we called for help at the southern star, and got picked up for a tow a mile north of that at the second star ^_^

Ben called 911 to get the coast guard, but nobody was a dying child, so they only helped us by giving us the Seatow phone number. They charge $250/hr, so we called around to other friendly boat owners. In the end we got picked up by the East Boothbay Harbor Master. That name sounds pretty fancy, but I think he just wanted something to do on a foggy day. They radar’d us and eventually picked us up about about a mile north of where we had originally called for help (the middle star above). The northernmost star on my map (near Squirrel Island teehee) is where a family friend was going to switch off and tow us back to our harbor, but the Harbor Master neglected to tell us that he was bringing us all the way back to his harbor, so our friend made a fruitless dangerous trip out in the fog in vain ): We got back safely to land about three hours after the propeller had failed. The only challenge for me was that nobody had brought food or water on the boat, so by the end we were all dehydrated and hungry. I feel like I always just assume parents/adults are supposed to handle things like that, forgetting that I’m 22. Lesson learned. And we’re all alive.

Anyway, that was a fun adventure.

The rest of our time in Boothbay was spent biking, kayaking, swimming, and eating too much. Most importantly, we got a lot of writing done and some recordings were made. Lots of late night noisemaking, since midday sessions had too many dogs and children barking outside. Hopefully I’ll get some mixes online soon. Pictures below!

Erin water skiin'
Damariscove Island yay
Shane was here? Foggy island adventures.
Harbor Master Towboat
Not berry successful day-3 pickin' hike >.<
Sunset on the harbor ^_^
Horrible picture of the slow midday demo recordin' process nom

And now I’m sitting in the Portland, ME airport. I have to go back into work tomorrow. There was an earthquake in Virginia (not too many power outages to worry about thankfully), so my flight to BWI was delayed and I took an offer to take an even later return flight in exchange for a free round trip to anywhere in the AirTran network yay. That’s like a two for one deal in my mind. Maybe even a three for one deal, since this flight is just one direction. I sort of actually miss Delaware. Maybe I just miss Newark. I think what I’m trying to say is that this might be the longest length of time in which I haven’t been to Deer Park in the past year. Leaving my guitar behind to be driven home later in the week is hard too. Oh white people and their devastating problems.