Every time I have tried to write about our trips to the Annapolis Boat Show I get so overwhelmed that I close my laptop and never look back – this year was no different. However, since the trip was so intertwined with family, friends and fun (the 3 F’s of life) I felt compelled to do the experience justice and at least try to convey 10 days of good times into one cohesive blog post – but it got wordy. Real wordy. So for your sake I have decided to cut the trip into TWO parts, starting with some good ‘ol family time.
Avocet Runs on Dunkin’
“Oh thank god” I said through a breathy exhale. My backpack made me look like a turtle as we waddled our way through the terminal to the promised land: Dunkin’ Donuts. How serendipitous we arrived in Boston the same day as the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Munchkins were released? With a coffee in hand we did our best to navigate the airport to the bus pickup where we would hop on and head to Framingham.
When we first set our sights on this Annapolis Boat Show trip, one thing was clear in my mind: I had to make time to reconnect with some of my favorite East Coasters – my Aunt Jen and Uncle John. You see, as my dads youngest siblings, there’s only approximately an 8-year age gap between us. When I was a kid, their summer visits were something I eagerly anticipated; it felt like having extra siblings around. But as time passed we all embarked on our busy lives along our respective coasts, and our visits became less frequent.
Recently, both of them have become parents, and it felt like the perfect moment to revive a tradition. Our “tour” began in Ashland, Massachusetts, where Aunt Jen, Uncle Jeremy, and my new cousins, Joel and Henry, call home. But, we would only be stopping by for a quick hello and house tour before we hit the road again to rendezvous with my Uncle John, Aunt Alana and new cousin Asher at a brewery half way between Ashland and the Cape.
Together again; it was almost exciting enough to keep me from letting my exhaustion consume me. A few ciders, eats and laughs later we hugged Jen and Henry goodbye and jumped in Johns truck to make our way to Cape Cod – our final destination for the day.
I’ve heard Cape Cod is one of those picturesque summer spots, famous for its charming villages, delicious seafood shacks, iconic lighthouses, and stunning ocean beaches. However, during our visit, we never quite caught sight of the ocean, so there’s an ongoing joke that I’m still not entirely convinced it exists. Our time on the Cape with John and Alana was short but oh-so-sweet. To kick things off, we needed a good night’s rest. Luckily, John and Alana had poured their heart and soul into renovating their home, and let me tell you, their hard work paid off in the form of an incredibly restful night’s sleep for both Chris and me in their cozy guest room.
“There are less colors here on the Cape,” John explained as we drove down the extremely lush highway. Despite not having the rich red and golds in the leaves, the sheer amount of greenery was awe-inspiring enough considering our California highways were usually barren. It was a new day full of new adventures, starting with a trip to a cranberry bog which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – boggy.
Fun Fact: Wolf spiders are often used as a form of natural pest control in cranberry bogs because they are effective predators of insect pests that can damage cranberry crops. So when the flood the bog, watch out! Spiders will crawl to the highest surface they can find… ie: YOU
Armed with some more coffee from John and Alana’s favorite local spot, we embarked on a short drive to the Smith Family Beer Garden in Hyannis. There, we rendezvoused with their friends, who ironically hailed from Fresno. It was a full-blown Oktoberfest affair, complete with all the expected shenanigans – mug holding contest, pitcher races, and, of course, copious amounts of beer and pretzels. Now, I must admit, I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I did find solace in a crisp, caramel apple cider that, to this day, remains the best I’ve ever had.
Little ones scampered about while their parents enjoyed the festivities. Asher, the epitome of baby cuteness, managed to completely steal Chris’s heart as the two walked around together while Chris was on a work call. His cherubic face brought back fond memories of when our own nephews were that small.
As evening descended, we returned to the Hushaw house and embraced the spooky spirit by watching “IT” after Asher went to bed. Thankfully, it wasn’t as terrifying as I remembered it being when we watched it in theaters so we were able to sleep easy that night. Our Cape Cod escapade was over in the blink of an eye, and the next morning saw us setting off on the journey back to Ashland.
It was another early morning made better by coffee (see a theme yet?) as we set off to rendezvous with Jen. Once in her possession, we returned to her house where two little boys were very excited to play. Joel, who was about to turn 3, was a bit timid of his new cousins but quickly opened up and shared all the details of every dinosaur that has ever walked the earth. The best part? His pronunciation of the creatures was spot on, and he was very quick to correct us.
A few hours into settling in, my Grandma Jeanne joined the party – although now she goes by Mimaw. We hadn’t seen her since Chris and I got married in 2018, which added more special moments to the entire visit. After the boys woke up from their naps, we loaded up in the cars and drove to Shelburne Farm for some good ol’ fashion New England Fall Fun!
We walked through the orchards admiring the various types of apples while doing our best to remember what we were picking. Chris held the bag while the littles eagerly picked apples with the help from the adults before running off to the playground. The colors were magnificent as the smell of cider and cinnamon filled the brisk air. It truly felt like fall, and even tasted like fall after our mulled ciders and apple cider doughnuts – a seasonal must have.
To end a perfect day we had dinner at Stones Public House in Ashland which is notoriously haunted by the spirit of 11-year-old Mary Smith, who had been killed by a train that roared past the inn in 1863. I love my dinner with a side of hauntings, and I mean that sincerely as a supernaturalist. Unfortunately, no spectors were seen during our delicious dinner… but that may have been for the best since the true terror was awaiting us at home
“Maple, I just want to go to bed,” I gently muttered, as I navigated around Jen’s beloved Maine Coon. All kidding aside, Maple is undeniably a sweet feline companion. Yet, much like our friends Mitch and Quincey’s cat Panda, Maple is a creature with clear boundaries that she doesn’t hesitate to enforce, often with her sharp claws and teeth. She seemed to have taken quite a liking to Chris (but honestly, what’s new) but her constant circling around me left me with the uncanny sensation of waiting to be attacked by Jaws. Luckily she allowed us to sleep through the night, watching us from the couch across from the bed.
The next morning we woke up bright and early, loaded up the boys in their wagon and walked to the park with grandma – I mean Mimaw – Jeanne. The swamp maples were on display as the painted the landscape with intense hues of orange and reds, while the spillway pond reflected the scenery. I snapped photos on my film camera as we walked along, soaking up every moment before we went back to the house, played outside, and managed to get a little work done.
That evening we softly celebrated Joel’s 3rd birthday (the big celebration would happen over the weekend). After more playing followed by dinner, little man opened gifts and blew out the candles on his cake before getting tucked into bed. We are so glad we were able to give him a hug the next morning before we continued on with the next part of our trip.
Annapolis Or Bust
“Well that was easy” Chris said as he closed the door behind him. We had just hugged goodbye to Aunt Jen and retrieved our first ever rental car – a perk of being 25 – and set our GPS for Annapolis. But first, Dunkin’.
We drove through 5 states to get to our destination where we would reconnect with our beloved friends Max and Karen, meet the crew of SV Jubel in real life, and make new friends with the crews of SV X Factor and SV Via. We had no idea what fun awaited us, but as I continue to write about the next piece of this story I am flooded with fond memories.
Stay tuned: Annapolis Boat Show 2023 recap is coming your way soon!
A heartfelt shout-out goes to my wonderful East Coast Hushaw family for opening their home to us, keeping us well-fed, and crafting precious memories together. To my new little cousins, I can only hope that you find me as cool as I once thought your parents were when I was a kid – a sentiment that still holds true today!
Marissa (and Chris and Cleo)