Boating with the masses. Er, the other 95%.

After my last post about the megayacht Marie, perhaps it is fitting that I write about our great day yesterday where we hung out with the non-megaboating set.  Let me explain.

In Essex there is a terrific museum dedicated to the preservation of steam trains.   The Essex Steam Train Museum is a very popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from all over.   While we did a trip on the train years ago, we have not been aboard since moving to the area a year ago.

About two weeks ago I was reading the local newspaper, an actual paper newspaper, if you can believe it, how quaint, and saw a notice about a planned 100 year celebration of the swing bridge in Haddam, over the CT River.  This opening bridge, with perhaps the longest opening span at the time, was an engineering marvel when it was finished in 1913.  Well, it’s now 2013… 100 years, a birthday? Get it?  Time to celebrate.

So, what better way to mark the 100th anniversary of the bridge than a run up the river in a historic, and beautifully preserved, steam train, ride in a riverboat and watch a parade complete with fife and drum and antique cars processing across a beautiful bridge?   Oh yeah,  and on a perfect cool and sunny spring day.  What could be better?  How about free hot dogs, ice cream, cookies etc?  Well, it was all that and more.

The train in Essex is beautifully preserved, a real classic, and in perfect condition. We boarded the train, and yesterday’s 7:30 AM run was free, to make the run up to the swing bridge dedication.   Free makes sense when you think about being out and about by 7:30 on a Saturday morning.  We were greeted by the president of the railroad museum.  This guy looks totally the part of railroad aficionado.  You can easily imagine him bellowing “aaalll aboooard!” (Is that how you spell all aboard?  Not sure.) as the train prepares to leave the station.  The train, and there are several of them, provide trips up the river valley and connects with the Becky Thatcher, an 80′ Mississippi style riverboat.  We enjoyed a run from Haddam back down to Deep River, where Pandora is moored for work for several months.

The train took us to East Haddam, home of the Goodspeed Opera House, which just happens to be on the eastern end of the “birthday bridge”.   They were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Opera House, so were happy to get in on the action.    The bridge looked splendid with a fresh coat of paint.  

As we arrived in Haddam, everyone got off of the train.  They really decked out the train with bunting for the occasion.  Forgive the thumb on the pix.  My “real” camera is on the fritz.  Yes, I could crop out my thumb but this blog is about real photos and really amateur photographers, me.  Besides, it’s so much easier to just post it and ask for forgiveness.  This is a blog with no shame…

This area of CT is very serious about classic cars, with a show cropping up what seems like every week.  Actually, I am told that there is a classic car meet every Tuesday evening in Deep River that draws 100 or so cars.  That’s a lot of meets.   Well, a bridge birthday was an opportunity, as good as any, to show up and they did.  I thought that this one from Essex, I am told, was particularly nice.  Hard to imagine Ford putting out a car like this today.  What a beauty. 



Fords were in abundance, and I loved the color of this one too.   

It was just so great to see the Fife and Drum corps making their way across the bridge.  The drums are so loud, I can only imagine what sort of hearing loss this group must have.  Hello?  Can you hear me now… at all, even a little?  Hello?   

The first car to cross was hardly a car.  Well, it even had a tiller to steer with.  I don’t know if it was even powered by gasoline.  What a classic.    

How about a fire engine?  I can understand having a classic car if you have an extra garage to spare.  Who has one that will fit a fire engine?   “Honey, guess what, I got a new vehicle.  It’s red.  It wasn’t that expensive, really.  Oh, and about that new barn that I need to build to put it in… And it gets even better, I have a perfect spot for your stuffed Dalmatian.”

This is the lovely Becky Thatcher that we boarded for the trip back down the river. Along the way we spied the train that was crawling along to keep pace with good old BT.  
We enjoyed watching the “race” against the steam train to the Deep River landing.

Along the way we passed Gillette Castle, a local landmark that is a great outing itself.  

We also went by a lovely old school that is for wayward boys, I am told.  It almost makes me wish I was a bad boy.  I could have gone there.  Drat…

Nearly back to Deep River Landing.  Pandora’s in the distance.  Actually, I should be aboard her working or she won’t be ready for sailing in August.  Never mind.  

Once back on the steam train, we passed lovely scenery on our way down to Essex.  We have taken our dink up into this creek for one of our “cocktail cruises” recently.  We have seen the train come by and blow it’s horn from the water.  It’s nice to be on the train looking out for once.  

All and all a great time.  In spite of it all, we were back home by noon and time for a nap.  Well, no rest for the weary, as we had dinner guests coming over, by boat.  Our third day of entertaining in three days but worth it.

Yes, time for a nap.  Besides, it’s Father’s day.  And, with Pandora out of commission for now, that makes me part of the non boating set, the 95% that don’t own a boat, and the 99.999% that can’t afford a megayacht, for now.    It’s fun to mingle with them now and then.

“Bob, Bob, have you fixed the leaking portholes yet?”  Quit it… I’ll deal with that tomorrow.  Remember, it’s Father’s Day.  Actually, some might suggest that every day is Father’s Day.  True enough.


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