Thursday, December 31, 2009

Antigua, Guatemala

Yesterday we were in the port of Que_____ in Guatemala. The port itself
is for the most part a commercial/industrial area so we took a bus to
the city of Antigua. This was about a one hour and a half drive but the
drive there was pleasant. We had been to Antigua in a previous Panama
Canal cruise but we went there anyhow. We visited the two large
churches and also meandered through the narrow streets and the plazas.
On the way to Antigua there is a volcano that is somewhat active. As we
passed from the top of the volcano we could see either small clouds or
steam/smoke from the crater. Hard to tell which it was.
Today we had a Mariner reception for cruisers who had 100s of days on
Holland American cruise ships. We talked to a couple from Wyoming who
are on their seventh World Cruises. The World Cruises usually last 110
to 120 days in length. One of these days we'll take one of those suckers!
Just before sitting down to write this post there was an announcement
from the bridge that a large school of dolphins were along side the
ship. I ran to the outside deck to take some pictures but by the time I
got there they were nowhere to be seen. Maybe next time!
Tonight is New Year's Eve so festivities aboard the ship. Should be fun.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Puerto Chiapas

Today we are in the port of Chiapas and it is another beautiful day in
Mexico. This morning we stayed on the ship and in the afternoon we took
a bus to an archaeological site at Izapa. The tour guide for this
outing is also an attorney so if any of our family needs a fall-back
profession they can start tour guiding. (ATTENTION - Julie and Bill!)
The archaeological site is not that large but there are others in the
same general area. The site is believed to be a part of the Olmec
civilization and before the Aztecs and Mayas.
After the archaeological site we traveled to the city of Tapachula, a
city of over 250,000 people. There we visited the archaeological museum
which holds a number of steles, pottery, etc. some of which from Izapa.
In Tapachula we also visited the Church of St. Augustine, the Culture
Center and the City Hall. I could not ask why the city hall was so
quiet and then realized that this was a holiday week. Even though it is
December, it seems like Summer.
We missed Bingo and will probably miss it tomorrow. As a result, we
have to make up for that in the Casino. (Yeah, lots of luck!) Because
we are not leaving the port until 7.00 PM the Casino will not open until
then. We'll just go to one of the bars and wait for the Casino to open!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Huatulco, Mexico

Today we are in Huatulco, Mexico and the weather is beautiful - the Sun
is shining and the temperature is in the 80s. This is another Mexican
town that its main industry is tourism. The m/s Amsterdam is not the
only ship in port as a Amazura ship is tied up right next to us. In
fact, when my notebook attempted to connect to a wifi port it chose to
try to connect to the Amazura wifi system as it was a stronger system
than that of the Amsterdam. Of course, I don't have an account on the
Amazura ship so I could connect to it but do nothing else.
Earlier Nancy and I walked off the ship to the small town and looked
around but not for long. Back on the ship was much pleasanter was
reading and relaxing. Right now we are heading up for an ice cream cone
and I'll finish this there.
Well, we finished the ice cream and we are just looking down on the
boats in the bay. As I noted it is very warm and up here by the pool it
seems like it is the 90s. Maybe not but it is very warm. Bingo starts
in about an hour - the high point of the day. Let's see what happens today!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

On the Way to Huatulco

Today is a leisurely day at sea as we cruise toward the town of Huatalco
on the Mexican coast. Although yesterday was warm but overcast, today
was in the 80s and sunny. A very nice day to sit on deck and read so I
did. Rather than eat lunch in the dining room or the buffet on the Lido
Deck we ate in the Pinnacle Grill. The Pinnacle is very elegant and the
food is excellent even for lunch. We have also made a reservation for
dinner there one night during the week.
Tonight will be another Casino, dinner and then the show. It is
difficult to determine how long we will stay at the show as the
entertainer is a singer. Some we stay for the entire show and at other
times we sneak out early. We shall see.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Today we are in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a typical tourist town on the
west coast of Mexico. We took a walk from the ship into town and walked
quite a way up the main road. We were going to walk to the old town and
realized it was about 5 miles. Five miles is not bad but it would also
require another five miles to get back.
Just finished Bingo and again no winners among the Eagans. In fact, we
have not won anything yet - no Bingo, nothing in the Casino. Maybe
tonight we will be lucky in the Casino. Even if we do not win anything,
it should be a nice evening. The entertainment is a woman comedian.
Give me a comedian, magician or juggler any time. I do not care for
the singers and dancers.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Today - Christmas Day - the ms Amsterdam is on its way to Puerto
Vallarta, Mexico which we will reach tomorrow morning about 8.00 AM.
Santa Claus visited the Amsterdam at 10.00AM for all the kiddies (young
and old).
We made an unscheduled stop at Cabo San Lucas as one of the crew was in
infirmary and needed to go to a hospital. Yesterday the doctor
determined that the facilities on the ship were insufficient for the
patient so the Captain looked for a a place to make an evacuation.
Helicopters both military and civilian were not available so over night
they ship headed for Cabo and took the crew member via a tender ashore
to meet an ambulance to a hospital. From there we took off again to
continue south for our next port.
Today more Casino and Bingo to see if we can pay for this cruise! (Lots
of luck!) Oh, also this morning we booked our next cruise. We are
scheduled to take the ms Prinsendam on a 21 day transatlantic cruise
from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam, Netherlands in May. That should be
fun as we can flu or train from Amsterdam to Florence, Italy to meet
Julie, Bill, Will and Alexa for a bit.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve at Sea

This morning we are sailing south along the Mexican Coast and it
certainly doesn't seem at all like Christmas Eve. The ship is decorated
for Christmas, the Atrium has decorated Christmas trees and some of the
waiters and stewards are wearing Santa Claus hats but it doesn't seem
like Christmas when you look out the window and see nothing but water.
This afternoon we are going to a wine tasting session. After that it is
bingo - the main reason we cruise! Dinner tonight is listed as "Formal
Optional" and I don't have the faintest idea what that means. I am
assume that some folks will be wearing tuxedos and others Dockers and
Izod shirt. I will opt for the latter because tomorrow is a Formal
night (no option).

Aboard the ms Amsterdam

We are now on board the ms Amsterdam for our two week cruise through the
Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale. Because this is a holiday cruise, the
ship is full and all cabins are occupied. We have a problem with mold
in the bathroom (the 'head' for you sailors) so the cabin steward gave
it a thorough cleaning. Let's hope that that takes care of the
problem. Otherwise we are screwed as there are no other cabins.
It is 6.15 PM [the colon key on the keyboard is dead, hence the period
in the time rather than a colon] and after a shower we will head for a
Martini before dinner. We have requested fixed late seating at 8.00 PM
and a fixed table rather than the "as you please" dining. That
requires that you call every day and make a reservation or just go to
the dining room and wait in line. I don't like to wait in line for
That's it for now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Cruise Day!

After four days with our daughter Colleen and her family and four days with our daughter Laura and her family, today our Panama Canal cruise starts from Long Beach.  Right now it is 7 AM here in Oak Park and it is about 45 degrees.  I must point out that this is California.  You know, warm, balmy weather.  What the hell happened! I hope that as we cruise south along Mexico and Central America it is warmer.

Even though it has been cold in both Eureka and Oak Park, we still had a great time.

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Oak Park, California

Since Saturday evening we have been visiting our daughter Laura and her family in Oak Park, CA.  Yesterday evening we attended a performance of Nutcracker Suite ballet which starred our granddaughters, Maris (Raggedy Ann) and Lily (a mouse).  Below is Maris as we head off to the Performing Arts Center.

Unfortunately, it is a bit cool here (hell no, it's cold) and here's to hoping that it warms up.

Friday, December 18, 2009

At the Beach (Samoa Peninsula)

Originally uploaded by pjeagan2001

After breakfast at the Samoa Cookhouse, we went to the beach for pictures. These were for Colleen's Christmas pictures to send out. This picture I thought was great.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eureka, CA

After all day yesterday in airplanes, we are in Eureka with Colleen, Robb and the twins.  The little ones are really getting big and on the move all the time.  At first they were a little bit (well, maybe more than a little bit) leery of Grandpa and Nana but that will eventually get over that.  I have found that tweaking and honking noses goes a long way to get to small kids.  We'll see.  Here is a picture of the darlings with their Santa Claus hats that Nana brought along.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the Road

Tomorrow we will fly to Los Angeles and then north to Eureka were we will spend four days with Colleen and her family.  This will be the first chance to see the twins since they were in Florida last spring.  Then we will fly back to Los Angeles and spend four days with Laura and her family and on the 23rd we will start a cruise on the ms Amsterdam to get back home.  We are taking this cruise through the Panama Canal because we only had enough frequent-flyer points to fly First Class one way to California.  Therefore we had to cruise back!  We will add details on the trip and cruise here as we progress.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Rochester Landmark

The railroad station above, located on West Main Street just west of Broad Street, was the passenger station for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad (BR & P). This railroad came into existence in 1885 when the Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad was split into the Pittsburgh & State Line Railroad Company and the BR & P.  The BR & P was purchased by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1932 and I can recall seeing the B&O sign on the building when I lived in Rochester.  The building is no longer a railroad station but is even more famous as it had ever been.  Today it is the home of internationally famous (well, maybe not internationally) Nick Tahou's and the equally famous garbage plate. Quite a place!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

King Ferry, NY

Above a screen capture from a Google Maps view of the rectory of Our Lady of the Lake Church in King Ferry, NY.  I'm sure that my sisters and cousins will recognize this from summer visits to our Uncle Joe - Rev. Joseph T. Maloney when he was the pastor there.  Behind the trees on the left is the church and behind the church is the cemetery.  Before looking at the photo, my memory had a picture of a much bigger house.  I guess it wasn't that big.  Too bad there is not a side view from the right so we could see the pump on the side porch.  I guess there was running water in the house but drinking water came from the well via the pump.  Does that make sense?  It was a long time ago.

As far as I know there is no longer a priest in King Ferry.  Like a number of churches in the Diocese of Rochester they have combined with other churches with one priest.  In the case of King Ferry the priest is located in Auburn at the end of the lake.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Rochester Telephone Book for 1910

The Monroe County Public Library has an ongoing project to digitize local books for the area.  This is a part of its Local History work.  Among the newest books to be digitized are the Bell Telephone Directory for 1910 and 1912 and on page 68 of the 1910 version we find my great-grandmother:

  • Eagan, Patrick Mrs., Res. 108 Atkinson . . . . . . Main 690
She is also found in the 1912 version on page 70 at the same address and the same number.  I suspect that numbers that have a number followed by a letter were party line.  Those without a letter were single lines.  I remember that our number on Flint Street was Genesee 5577-M.

St. Patrick's Cemetery

In October I posted an account of Cemeteries in Rochester, NY.  In that post I noted that a number of siblings of my paternal grandfather were originally buried in the cemetery associated with St. Patrick's Church and later reburied in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.  Recently I came across a portion of a plat for the Pinnacle Hill area that shows St. Patrick's Cemetery.  Note that the city line goes through the cemetery.  In addition, note the location of St. Boniface Cemetery at the corner of Highland Parkway and Clinton Ave, South.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My Christmas Present

Here is my Christmas present from my lovely wife.  This is for our travels and will be inaugurating it on our California/Panama Canal trip starting two weeks from today.  You will note that the operating system is Windows XP but it will be changed to Linux (the Ubuntu version).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving in Scottsdale

Nancy and I spent six days over Thanksgiving in Scottsdale, AZ with three of our daughters and their families.  Here is a video of some of what we did.  The best part is the beginning with my grandson, Will, doing some of the driving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Off to Scottsdale, AZ

This afternoon my lovely wife and I will be flying to Scottsdale to spend a week with some of our children and grandchildren.  And, by the way, today is our 25th Wedding Anniversary.  And some people thought that it wouldn't work!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rochester Civil War Camps

In the summer of 2004, the Rochester History, a quarterly publication done by the Rochester City Historian had an article titled, "Campgrounds of the Civil War" by George Levy and Paul Tynan.  This piece describes three camps found in Rochester during the Civil War for assembly and training in preparation for shipping to the war sites.  These camps were Camp Hillhouse, Camp Fitz-John Porter and  Camp Genesee.

Camp Hillhouse was located at the Monroe County Fair Grounds that today is the site of of the Nursing School at Strong Memorial Hospital on Crittenden Blvd.  Camp Fitz-John Porter was located on Cottage Street on the corner of Cottage and Magnolia Street.  Camp Genesee was located at Maplewood Park on Lake Avenue.

Camp Hillhouse was looked at in 1862 as a possible site for a Prisoner of War camp.  At that time the exchange of prisoners between the North and South had ceased and additional facilities were needed.  As a result, Col. William Hoffman, in charge of prisons, detailed a Capt. H. M. Lazelle to visit camps at Albany, Utica, Rochester and Elmira and to report on the feasibility of using any of these camps as Prisoner of War camps.  We know that Elmira was chosen and in 1864 Rochester's 54th Regiment of the NY National Guard spent 100 days there as a guard unit.

The following from The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 2 - Volume 4, pages 74 thru 77, is the report that Capt. Lazelle sent to Col. Hoffman concerning Camp Hillhouse in Rochester.

DETROIT, MICH., June 25, 1862.
Commissary- General of Prisoners, Detroit, Mich.

COLONEL: In compliance with your order dated Washington June 12, 1862, requiring me to visit the permanent camps at Albany, Utica, Rochester and Elmira and the U. S. barracks at Buffalo to ascertain their capacity for quartering troops and to make to you a written report thereon accompanied by a general plan of each camp, I have the honor to submit the result of my examination of the camp so specified at Rochester, N. Y., as its condition when visited by me on or near the 22d instant.

This camp is known as the Camp of the State Fair Grounds. The grounds were rented by the Government at $100 per month for the first three months occupied; after that period at $50 per month. It erected on them quarters for 1,000 men, mess hall, kitchen, guard-house, stables, officers quarters, sinks, & c., and for a considerable period occupied them with volunteer troops. Within a few months, however, the buildings so erected and the furnishings contained in them have been sold, and they together with the grounds are now in possession of the authorities of the State Fair who contemplate holding there a fair in September next.

The barracks, mess halls and kitchens are now being removed of their furniture for that purpose. It occupies a fine situation, being located on an excellent road about two miles southeast from town on a plot of ground gently sloping, of a rectangular shape, being 400 by 800 yards. The soil is firm and hard at all times--is composed of gravel covered with sward. The camp at present contains no troops. The ground is quite as high as the surrounding country and there is not in its vicinity either marsh, standing water or forest or any locus of malaria or disease. The camp is abundantly supplied with pure limestone water from never-failing wells on the ground. The Genesee Canal [Genesee Valley Canal] passes within a few hundred yards of the west side of the camp and the New York Central Railroad lies very near it. It is surrounded by a high, close, board fence of about 8 feet.

The buildings Were all, with the exception of that formerly used as a hospital, erected by the Government. They are all new, of one story, of wooden frames, with rough board coverings both on the sides and roofs. These boards are matched and the seams again covered with outer boards. The roofs are pitched and are, at the ridge poles of the buildings used as the mens quarters, mess halls and kitchens, about 2O feet high and at the eaves 10 feet. The buildings used as officers quarters, hospital and guard-house are about 15 and 8 respectively. They all have firm floors of planks and are well ventilated. In two long buildings built closely together and parallel with each other, each 280 by 40 feet, are the quarters for the men and mess halls. At the south end of these two buildings and abutting against them is the kitchen, whose extreme length is, together with a small shed at one end, just equal to the united width of the two larger buildings plus the interval between them, viz, 90 feet. The kitchen is 30 feet wide and contains but little of ordinary cooking apparatus, most of it having been removed. In one of the large buildings above mentioned is a mess hall 130 by 40 feet and in the other another hall 70 by 40. They will comfortably seat 1,000 men, but most of the tables and benches have been removed to the outside since the sale
of the buildings.

There are two sets of quarters, one in each of the large buildings, each 40 feet wide and 150 and 210 feet long respectively. In each the bunks are placed end to end and are arranged in 5 rows of double bunks, the outer rows of 3 tiers and the 3 inner ones of 4 tiers each. By this arrangement the larger set of quarters will readily accommodate 600 men and the smaller 400, 1,000 men being the original adaptation of the buildings. There are sufficient bunks for the reception of this number but no ticks for straw. The hospital is 60 by 30 feet with an L of 20 by 10 feet. The guard-house is 20 by 15 feet with an addition for cells and prison rooms of 30 by 10 and is not sufficient but for temporary occupancy of the camp. There are 4 small buildings of 15 by 10 feet each, of 1 room each, used for officers quarters. There is no bake-house but the rations are furnished, cooked and placed on the tables, and furniture supplied for the tables, at 22 cents each, the contractor furnishing his own cooking apparatus. The sinks are filthy and out of repair. There is a good bath-house at the northwest end of the ground 70 by 15 feet. On the south side are stabling sheds for 100 horses, and on the north side of the grounds stabhing sheds for 50 horses.

Hard wood is delivered at the camp for $4 per cord and soft at $3; coal at $5 and $6 per ton. Lumber can be purchased at $9 and $10 per 1,000 feet. I was informed by General John Williams, of Rochester, under whose care these grounds formerly were, that at Le Roy, a point thirty miles west from Rochester, is a large stone building formerly used as a car depot, completely fitted with furniture and ready for the reception of 1,000 men; that the Government formerly hired and placed in this building its furnishings but that it has now sold them, but that they can be had complete at present if
desired as they are not in use, and have not since being occupied for military purposes been disturbed.

 I am, colonel, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
Captain, Eighth Infantry.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why I Love Rochester

This morning's Democrat & Chronicle carries an article concerning entitled "6 injured, vehicles struck by erratic driver, police say."  The lead paragraph pretty much lays it out:

A 27-year-old man is facing a slew of traffic tickets and felony charges after he allegedly drove his car into pedestrians, a bicyclist and a vehicle on South Plymouth Avenue Thursday afternoon before leading police on a chase through residential and commercial streets.
While doing doughnuts in the lot, the vehicle struck a bicyclist, another vehicle and about three pedestrians in the parking lot area of the gas station.
The article concludes with the following comment from the police,"[Police Officer] Markert said several alcohol containers were found inside the Maxima, which might have been a contributing factor to his erratic driving."  Brilliant!

UPDATE:  The following is from WHAM:  "According to court documents, Muthana allegedly got intoxicated and was seen going into the Kennedy Towers with a transvestite. It is not clear whether the suspect knew he was with a transvestite.

When someone on the street confronted Muthana with that information, it is alleged that Muthana became enraged and began intentionally running people over.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rochester and the Railroads


I guess that all boys (and old men) are fascinated by trains. I remember my first train set I received on Christmas probably about 1948. It wasn't a new set. It had belonged to my cousin, Jack O'Brien, but he grown out of the set. (Jack was 17 years older than I.) For a number of years the trains - a Lionel set - was set up around the Christmas tree for a number of years. I suspect that when we moved to Trafalgar St. in 1950 the train set was packed up and was among the 'junk' in the attic there.

My grandson, Liam, had a train set around their Christmas tree when he was about three years old or so. My grandson, Will, has probably every train and accessory possible with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. In addition to my Lionel train set on Flint Street, I also had a grandfather, Frederick Maloney, an engineer on the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. Here is my grandfather, second on the right. The fellow on the right was my grandfather's fireman, Harry Hook.

I guess that today there are a few short line railroads in the Rochester area but not at all the number of main railroads that once served the Rochester area.  An interesting web site showing the Railroad History of Rochester from 1825 up to 2009.  The Rochester City Directory for 1900 shows 16 railroads, some sharing the same tracks and the same stations.  These were:

  • Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway Co. - Passenger and freight stations, West Avenue and Oak Street.
  • Erie Railroad Company - Passenger station on Court Street.
  • enesee Falls Railway Co. (Inc. 1886) - Road leased in perpetuity to the N.Y.C. & H.R.R.R.
  • Irondequoit Park Railroad Co. (Inc. 1896) - Station Main St. E. corner Chamberlain
  • Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad (Inc. 1852) - Road leased to Erie Railroad Co.
  • Rochester & Suburban Railroad Co. (Inc. 1900) - Office and station Portland Ave. opposite Bay Street
  • Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad - Station 434 State St. Road leased in perpetuity to the N.Y.C. & H.R.R.R.
  • West Shore Railroad - Station Central Ave. Road leased in perpetuity to the N.Y.C. & H.R.R.R.
  • Western New York & Pennsylvania Railway - Station 81 West Ave.
  • Lehigh Valley Railroad - Passenger station South Ave.  corner Griffith Street.  City office 13 Main St. E.
  • New York Central & Hudson River Railroad - Passenger station Central Ave. corner St. Paul St.
  • Northern Central Railway - Penn. System - Trains arrive and depart from N.Y.C. & H.R.R.R. station Central Ave.
  • Rochester, Charlotte & Manitou Railroad Co.
  • Rochester Electric Railway Co. (Inc. 1888) - Leased to Rochester Railway Co.
  • Rochester Railway Co. (Inc. 1890) - (Street) - 267 State St.
  • Rochester & Sodus Bay Railway C. (Inc. 1898)
It certainly changed in the last 109 years.

Happy Birthday - United States Marine Corps

Today is the birthday of the nation's oldest branch of the armed serves, the United States Marine Corps.  Older, in fact, than the United States.  The Corps was founded in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia on November 10, 1775.  My active duty in the Marine Corps was from December 1961 to December 1964.  That three years saw me at: Parris Island, SC; Camp Lejune, NC; Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA; and Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, NC.  Semper Fidelis!

Sgt. Patrick J. Eagan, USMC (Ret)

(Ok, I didn't retire but it looks nice!)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Underground Railroad to School

Ok, I didn't really take the Underground Railroad to school. In fact, the Underground Railroad was not a real railroad system but rather a system of secretly moving slaves to the north during the nineteen century. However, on my way to St. Monica's School on Genesee Street in Rochester I had to pass a house that everybody (well, not everybody) said was at one time a station on the Underground Railroad. At the time (in the late 1940s and early 1950s) we took these rumors only half serious. Only much later did I learn that this house probably was a part of the Underground Railroad.

The house was located at 669 Genesee St. on the corner of Elmdorf St. and in the 1850s it was owned by George H. Humphrey, a Rochester attorney and active abolitionist.  Humphrey and his family owned the house for only a couple of years and in the Rochester City Directory the house is referred to  by its name, 'Elm Grove,' rather by its street number.  (This may be because the west side of Genesee St. was not a part of the city but was in the town of Gates.  That land west of Genesee St. was not a part of the city until about 1893.) The house no longer exists and since 1968 the location is the site of a apartment house owned by the Rochester Housing Authority.

In the nineteen century Rochesterians was very active in the abolitionist movement and it looks like the 19th Ward was a part of that history.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

Although I'm not a farmer (although I do play one on TV) I do like Daylight Savings Time but with the change I'm able to start my daily bike ride at 6:30 AM with the sun up. However, it is now 5:40 PM and the sun went down 3 minutes ago! That I could do without.

Rochester's Subway - An Interesting Blog

In July I wrote about the Kodak Park Athletic Association (KPAA) and the Rochester subway. Since then I have come across the Rochester Subway blog, an interesting site dealing with Rochester's long-gone subway. Anyone with even a tad bit of interest in Rochester history may want to look at it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grandpa Mack's 101st Birthday

Last weekend we were in Michigan for my wife's father's 101st birthday. The pictures are found here and a video is found here.  We had a wonderful time in spite of the miserable weather - cold, windy and rain.  I'm at a loss as to how anybody can live there year round!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Road

Last week Nancy and I were in Miami Thursday thru Saturday babysitting our granddaughter, Alexa. Today we are off to the Detroit area for my father-in-law's 101st birthday and we will be back home on Monday afternoon.  (By the way, the temperature in Boca Raton right now is 79 with a high forecasted of 86; in Detroit it is 56 with a projected high of 59.  Just lovely!) After that we will be home for four weeks and then we will off for a week in Scottsdale, AZ with three of our daughters and their family for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cemeteries in Rochester, NY

For the thirty or so years that I lived in Rochester, I knew that Rochester had two large cemeteries: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Lake Avenue for Catholics and Mount Hope Cemetery on Mount Hope Avenue for everybody else.  I guess that I may have heard of two smaller ones, the Rapids Cemetery and Riverside Cemetery, although at the time I probably couldn't tell you where they were.  I have subsequently learned that the Rapids Cemetery was located in my neck of the woods, the 19th Ward.  It is on the north side of Congress Avenue just about seven lots from Genesee Street.  Riverside Cemetery in located on the east side of Lake Avenue just north of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.  I suspect that if I had gone north on Lake Avenue I would have assumed that Riverside was just a continuation of Holy Sepulchre.  Looking at a map the two abut each other.

When I started looking at my family's history I found that some of my Eagan Grandfather's siblings had been originally buried at St. Patrick's cemetery located on Pinnacle Hill.  When the large plot of land on Lake Avenue was purchased by the Diocese of Rochester for a cemetery (and also St. Bernard's Seminary) all bodies from Pinnacle Hill were removed to Holy Sepulchre.  Also were removed to Holy Sepulchre were those buried at other Catholic cemeteries that I did not even know about.

One of the first duties of the new common council was to provide a suitable resting-place for the dead. The early settlers had used for that purpose a half-acre lot on the corner of Plymouth avenus and Spring streets, by permission of its owners. Rochester. Fitzhugh and Carroll, who finally deeded it, as a free gift, to the village corporation in 1821. Three months later it was exchanged for a lot of three and a half acres on West Main street, where the City hospital now stands, and all the bodies were removed thither. This was always known as the Buffalo street buryingground, while a smaller one on the east side of the river was called the Monroe street bury ing-ground. But both together were too circumscribed and too near to a growing population, so in 1836 the common council, approving a selection unofficially made by a committee of citizens, purchased of Silas Andrus a piece of ground comprising the first fifty-three acres of what is now Mt. Hope. Fortunately for posterity Silas Cornell was the surveyor of the city at that time, to whose rare skill as a landscape architect, and equally perhaps to his wise forbearance in altering as little as possible the undulations of the ground, it was owing that Mt. Hope has always been one of the most beautiful resting-places for the departed in nil the land. The spirit of the original design has been adhered to by successive superintendents, notably by George D. Stillson, who held the position for sixteen years. Additions were made to the necropolis from time to time, the largest being in 1865, when seventy-eight acres were purchased, so that it now contains about one hundred and eighty-eight acres. The first interment, that of William Carter, was made on August 18th, 1838; on the 1st of June, 1894, the fifty thousandth burial took place and up to this time some sixty thousand have been laid away there, a veritabla city of the dead, a silent city.

While there were some few Catholics interred at Mt. Hope in early days, the great majority of that communion, practically all of them, preferred to bury their dead in ground consecrated by their church, and so the trustees of St. Patrick's bought an extensive tract on the Pinnacle hills, southeast of the city, in 1838, and for the next thirty-three years the interment of English-speaking Catholics was made in the Pinnacle burying-ground, as it was always called, since which time much of the light, sandy soil of that eminence has been removed for building purposes. The German Catholics have had three cemeteries—that of St. Joseph, on Lyell avenue; of Sts. Peter and Paul, on Maple street, and of St. Boniface, on South Clinton street—but almost all the bodies have been removed from these and deposited in the Holy Sepulcher cemetery. This comprises about one hundred and forty acres, situated on Lake avenue, north of the city line, in the town of Greece, and extending to the bank of the river. The location is a most desirable one, and since it was opened, in 1871, it has been increasingly beautified, so that it has become very attractive to all visitors.

Perceiving the advantage that the Holy Sepulcher had over Mt. Hope in being located so far from the dwellings of the living, several persons formed themselves into a corporation in 1892 and bought one hundred acres of land just north of the former, where the grounds were at once laid out in a suitable manner and were tastefully decorated, the result being that lots were speedily purchased and interments are very frequent in the lovely Riverside cemetery. One other place of the dead might have been mentioned before, on account of its antiquity. Although within the city limits, near the southern end of Genesee street, it was doubtless intended for the use of the dwellers ir Scottsville and Chili, for it is said to have been established in 1812, when there were no residents here. It has always been known as the Rapids burying-ground. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Trafalgar Street in Rochester, NY

Yesterday we looked at my home until 1950 on Flint Street.  Here you see my home from 1950 until 1961 when I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  While in the Corps I was married and when I returned to Rochester at the end of my enlistment my wife and son moved into my father-in-law's house on  Shelbourne Road.  Originally when we moved here the front door was in the middle of front with a window on the right.  Inside there were relatively small halls/rooms and the living room.

My father wanted a large living room so he (with my help) tore down the walls for the smaller halls/rooms and made one large living room.  I'm surprised that the second floor didn't fall into the first floor and then into the basement as at least one of those walls that were taken down was a load bearing wall. To take the place of the load bearing wall, my father laid two very long "two by tens" against the studs and up against the ceiling and then cut the studs.  After some time he also had to but a jack in the basement to keep the first floor living room from sagging?

The details of the house at the City of Rochester property site note that there are seven rooms.  I guess that they don't count the three rooms in the attics.  Also it lists one bathroom but no mention to the toilet ("the throne") in the basement; the one that my sisters and I painted!

The house on the right was the Websters and on the left were the Hartwell.  Next to the Hartwells on the corner of Trafalgar and Montgomery were the Griffins.  If you look at a map of this area of Rochester you will note that we were three houses from West High School (now Wilson Magnet High School). My sisters could leave for school minutes before it started and be there on time.  Not me, I went to Aquinas Institute on Dewey Avenue.  For me to get to school I took a bus downtown to the Four Corners (Main and State) and transfer to the Dewey Avenue bus (number 10 bus if I recall).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flint Street in Rochester, NY

Here is the house I lived in on Flint Street in Rochester until 1950 when we moved to Trafalgar Street. This wasn't very far as you can see on a map of Rochester. It was just the other side of Genesee Street.

The small stoop at the front door is not the way it was when we lived there.  Then there was a porch with railing that went the entire front of the house.   One spring just before Easter (I think) we were getting ready to take the bus downtown to shop for Easter outfits.  Because the railing was to walk on (what else would they be there for) my sister, Kathy, fell.  Naturally, she broke her arm.  I don't for the life of me recall how she got the break set and the cast put on.  If I had to guess she went to St. Mary's Hospital just up Genesee St. at Bull's Head.  (I'll talk about Bull's Head and other locations in Rochester at some other time.)  I'm pretty sure we didn't go downtown that day!

It's funny but I can remember more of the neighbors on Flint Street than I can on those on Trafalgar Street.  The neighbors to the right of our house was the Trimbles (Herb and his wife) and next to them was Mr. Trimble's mother and sister.  As I recall, the two houses were always painted the same and had shared garage in the back.  (In those days almost all garages were detached from the house.)

On the left was the Dipples.  I don't think I ever knew Mr. and Mrs. first names but I just looked in the City Directory for 1929 and Mr. Dipple was George.  Mrs. Dipple was a regular crone.  Their back yard was a regular jungle and if anything went over their fence you had to hunt for it.  More often or not Mrs. Dipple saw you and she would come out the back door screaming.

Next to the Dipples were the Schwartz (I think that was the name).  They had a garage in their back yard where my father kept his car.  Next to them was the Porters.  They had three older girls, an older boy and Billy.  Billy was probably five years older than I or more and quite stocky.  No, not stocky, he was fat.  He was taking flying lessons when he was in high school (Edison High) and crashed and died.  I don't recall whether it was at the Rochester Airport or Hyland Field, a small air field in either Brighton of Henrietta.

Next to the Porters, at 502 Flint St., were the Neary family: Jim (a policeman) and Helen, and Fred, Barbara and Bob.  They were probably our closest friends on Flint Street.  Until about 1944, the grandfather, Patrick J. Neary, also lived there.  I recall when he died as he was laid out at home (as was common then) during a terrible storm.  That was probably my earliest recollection of Flint Street.  Quite a neighborhood.

At another time I'll introduce you to the Denices (assholes), Johnny Montuli (or as my father called him, Johnny Ma-got-no-teeth), Annie Conner, and the rest of the crew on Flint Street.

Ireland Does Not Have A Prime Minister

This morning's New York Times had an article relating to Secretary of State Clinton and her visit to Ireland accompanied by a photo with Brian Cowen. Although the article refers to Cowen as the Irish Prime Minister, the Republic of Ireland has no Prime Minister. The head of government in Ireland is the Taoiseach, an Irish term meaning Chief. 

Friday, October 09, 2009

President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

I'm not sure that he has done anything yet to warrant that prize but one thing is certain. It certainly will piss off those cretins on the right!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Heat Index 104 in Boca Raton

Right now (noon) in Boca Raton it is about 90 degrees and the heat index stands at 104. That has been the norm for the last five days or so. As a result, after my morning bicycle ride and a shower I strapped my beach chair and umbrella on my back, hopped on my motorscooter and headed to the beach. Breakfast at the beach was Gatorade, a bagel and the New York Times. It doesn't get any better than that!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Planning

It is travel planning time again. Because we have been home a month now I thought it was time to start planning our new escapade. It's not that we don't like it at home, it's just that we do like to travel. Last week I made reservations to travel to Michigan in a few week for my father-in-law's 101st birthday but I don't consider this an "escapade." We are thinking about a trip next summer similar to that we did this year - a transatlantic cruise followed by a European river cruise. We will probably do that in May and June and we have netted out dates and locations but no reservations.

However, what should we do in the mean time? Nancy suggested that we fly to California in December and visit the "west coast daughters" - Laura in Los Angeles and Colleen in Eureka. And I suggested that we take a Panama Canal cruise to get back home. So that's what we are doing: fly to Los Angeles using frequent flier points, fly to Eureka on Air Alaska or United, take a Holland America cruise from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal.

The cruise is 14 days and starts in Los Angeles on December 23 so have to back up from there so we spend four days at each daughter's place. We will fly from Miami to Los Angeles on December 15 and we have enough frequent flier points to fly coach but not enough for Business Class. Fixed that by "sharing" 10,000 points with Nancy so we can go Business Class. (Before last month to take a one-way trip the number of frequent flier points was the same as a round trip. Now a one-way trip is half as many as for a round trip.)

We want to end up in Los Angeles so we want to go to Eureka first. So, we have round trip tickets on United from Los Angeles to Eureka where we will stay until the 19th of December when we will fly back to Los Angeles. We will stay there until the 23rd when the cruise starts.

This morning I talked to our travel agent (she didn't answer her phone yesterday as it was Yom Kippur) and we will take the ms Amstedam to Ft. Lauderdale. We have been on the Amsterdam before for our 64 day Asia/Australia/Polynesia cruise in 2007. We pick a category (outside cabin - obstructed view) and hope that we will be upgraded. We almost always do but we'll see.

Now with that out of the way, we can work on next summer cruises!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I have been remiss in keeping this blog up to date since we returned from our cruises. I neglected to introduce my thirteenth grandchild, Alexa Grace Charouhis, who was born on the 28th of August. She is my step-daughter Julie's daughter.

As a result of Alexa's arrival it was necessary to update my "Irish Grandfather" sweat shirt which now has the name of my 13 grandchildren - nine girls and four boys.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Return of the DA

Originally uploaded by pjeagan2001

Do you remember the DA (duck's ass) hair style from the 1950s? Well, this is the real thing in Luzerne, Switzerland. (Actually they are swans rather than ducks but whoever heard of a hair style called the SA (Swan's Ass).

Updating My Travel Map

Following our latest cruises, I have updated our travel map generated at World66. We have added Greenland and Iceland. (Alright, I know Greenland is not a country. It is part owned by Denmark but I'm going to count it. World66 counts Puerto Rico and that's not a country.)

create your own visited country map

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cruise Photos on Flickr

The photos from our transatlantic and Rhine River cruises are now on Flickr. They are a collection titled Transatlantic & Rhine River Cruises - 2009. Comments must still be added.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back Home

After a very enjoyable trip (really trips) we are home at last. Left London Heathrow at 10:35 AM with Mrs. Eagan in First Class and Mr. Eagan in Business Class. Now to put the photos on Flickr but not tonight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

London - Heathrow Airport

We got up at 4:15 AM this morning in our hotel in Basel and took a cab
to the EuroAirport serving Basel. Because we had paid extra for "Speedy
Boarding Pass" we were the first on the plane and got aisle seats in the
second row. Almost like First Class but not quite! Arriving in Gatwick
airport and going through immigration (we came from a non-EU country) we
got our luggage and bought a ticket for the National Express coach to
Heathrow. This is a little over an hour trip. At Heathrow we had to
hunt to find where the hotel shuttle buses but eventually found them.

Had a late breakfast (actually an early lunch) in the restaurant of the
hotel. Right now (3:40 PM) we are relaxing and go to eat later. The
first shuttle bus in the morning is at 5:19 AM and you can bet that we
will be on it! Got to get our name on the stand-by list and hope we can
get a seat to Miami at least in Business Class. We shall see. Should
be home sometime in the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Still in Basel

We are still in Basel. Our original plan was to take the train and go to
Luzerne for the day. This was contingent on the rain. The forecast for
today was rain all day and this morning it looks like it was ready to
rain. As a result, we canceled our plans for Luzerne and stayed in
Basel. Guess what happened, the sun came out and it was beautiful for
most of the day until this afternoon when it did rain.

We will be leaving hear early tomorrow morning for London. Our EasyJet
(can't wait to try that sucker) is to Gatwick so from there we take the
hour and a half coach ride to Heathrow and from there a shuttle to our
hotel. It looks like this vacation is beginning to end but it has been
very good. Let's see, we visited eight different countries and each was
unique. Quite a vacation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Luzerne, Switzerland


This morning after breakfast we took the bus to the train station here
in Basel to catch the train to Luzerne to spend the day. The
transportation in Europe is great whether it be train, tram or bus. The
hotel gave us a "mobility ticket" that is valid for all public transport
in the city of Basel and its surrounding areas. However, this does not
cover the train. The trip to Luzerne was just about an hour and the
trains between Luzerne and Basel run about every half hour so it is
pretty convenient. In addition, as with most cities in Europe the train
station is in the heart of the city so when you arrive at any place you
are in the town or city center.

On the train ride as we came closer to Luzerne you could see the
mountains in the background. Luzerne is the beginning of the Alps. The
city is very picturesque with the water and the mountains. Lake Luzerne
is right there and the city wraps around it. We took our walk around
the city with a map that we picked up at the tourist center in the train
station. On our Rhine River cruise someone told us to not miss the Lion
Monument carved into the side of a granite hill. It is a monument to
Swiss mercenaries that were killed fighting for the French King during
the French Revolution. These same mercenaries are those today that
guard the Pope.

Another site that we wanted to see was the church of St. Leodegar that
sits at the end and overlooking the Schweizerhofquai, a main waterfront
street. The church has a main high altar and many side altars, all very
ornate. Near the baptismal fount is a 'mural' with pictures of about 75
or so pictures of babies that had been baptized there in the last couple
of years. Around the outside of the church are burial sites of members
of the church. No dates were very old, most within the last 50 years or so.

While we were walking along the water looking for someplace to have
lunch we ran into two couples from Tennessee that were on the Rhine
River cruise. They had come to Luzerne yesterday directly from the
cruise and were taking the high-speed train to Paris and then flying
home. We picked a spot outside for lunch on the water and the menu had
something I had never seen before - horse. That's it, horse, as in
equine. Turns out the horse (roast horse) was more expensive than the beef.

We are back in Basel at the hotel now and tomorrow we will probably take
the train in the morning to Zurich. Zurich seems to be the same
distance as Luzerne was. We will have to see what the weather brings then.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Basel, Switzerland

During the night, probably sometime after midnight, we arrived in Basel,
Switzerland after going through three or four locks in the Rhine.
Unlike ocean cruises we have taken where the luggage has to be packed
and outside the cabin door around midnight, eight o'clock was the
appointed time for us so we put it off the packing as long as we could.
After breakfast and last minute good-byes a taxi picked us up at 9:15 AM
and we were at the Dorint Hotel twenty minutes later or so. Luckily our
room at the hotel was ready so we were able to get in it right away.

After a short nap we took the tram to the Marktplatz (Market Plaza)
where we strolled around, had lunch, strolled some more and then back to
the hotel. Tomorrow we will probably take the train to Luzerne as we
understand it is only a one hour trip.

Black Forest in Germany and Colmar, France

On Saturday morning were arrived at Breisach, Germany to go to the Black
Forest. Docked in Breisach I was impressed by the large numbers of
swans in the Rhine on both sides of the river. And also the number of
people water skiing on the Rhine.

We boarded a bus to visit a church (the term among the cruise folks was
ABC - Another Bloody Church!) and on the way spotted a large stork nest
atop a tall building. The storks spend summers in the this area and
spend the winters in Africa. I would include the photo but it was too
dark so I have to adjust it. We will see additional stork nests in
Colmar later in the day. The first stop was at the Church of St. Peter
in the town of St. Peter. Again inside the church everything was very
ornate. The guide noted that this was the site of a seminary but was no
longer used for that. While we were in the church was either practicing
or tuning the pipe organ and if nothing else it was loud.

The scenery along the way to St. Peter and then later to the
cuckoo-clock place was spectacular. It was everything that I expected
the Black Forest to be. The guide on the bus had an accent that I could
not place. I knew that it was not German but found out later that he
was from Wales. I guess you'll find Germans as guides in Wales, too.

The next trip was a cuckoo-clock 'place' (I don't know what to call it)
and there was a huge clock on the side of a building. At the hour and
the half hour dancers dance around the clock. A video of this will
eventually be found on YouTube.

In the afternoon we took a trip to the town of Colmar, France across the
river. I Colmar we took a couple hour walking tour of the town and it
was here that we saw another stork nest on the top of a church. In
Colmar we visited on of the homes of Bartholdi, the designer of the
Statue of Liberty.

Strasbourg, France

I am trying very hard to catch up on our stops and ports along the
Rhine. (Today is Sunday and we are in Basel, Switzerland.) Friday
morning we had the opportunity to visit wheelhouse while we cruised down
(actually up) the Rhine. This was possible because we did not reach our
destination for the day until 2:00 PM. This was Kehl, Germany just
across the river from Strasbourg, France.

After the ship docked in Kehl, we boarded a bus for Strasbourg, France.
There we toured the city passing the Council of Europe, the Court,
library and eventually the Cathedral, a very impressive structure. As
with most of the large, old churches in Europe the stained glass windows
are works of art. Quite a few of the stained glass panels were in the
process of being replaced. The high point of the cathedral was the
astronomical clock which not only gives the time but gives the month,
season, moon phases. Everything but football scores!

After viewing the inside of the cathedral we were looking for a rest
room (a/k/a toilet, WC, etc.) which we thought was to be to the right of
the Post Office but could not find it. We found an alley behind the PO
to search the other side of the building and what did we find behind a
fence but a lone tomb. I did not find out who it was buried there but
never passing up a grave I took a picture of the grave. And so much for

Friday, August 21, 2009

Heidelberg, Germany

Yesterday morning we arrived in Mannheim, Germany at about 10:00 AM and
took a bus to tour the Heidelberg Castle high on the hill above the city
of Heidelberg. The photo was taken from the castle looking down on the
Nekar River, a tribute of the Rhine. The city of Heidelberg is noted
for both its castle and also its university which was founded in 1386.
The castle has had some extensive damage during the Wars of Succession
(succession to the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) in 1689 and from a
storm where lightning struck the arsenal causing an explosion. The
castle is large so there is still a lot to see.

Following the castle, we visited the Church of the Holy Spirit, a former
Catholic church and now a Lutheran Church. At one time the church was
used by both Catholics and Lutherans with the two using different altars
and altar areas in the church. In addition to the different altars,
both congregations had there own organs so they probably did not have
services at the same time.

Rather than returning to Mannheim, he went to Speyer as the ship had
moved down (or up) the river while we were at the castle. After an hour
on the ship there was a one hour walking tour of the town of Speyer but
we begged off on that.

This morning we are on our way to Kehl, Germany where we will go by bus
to Strassburg, France. In this portion of the Rhine, Germany is on one
side and France is on the other. And right now we have just entered a
lock and is beginning to darken until the water rises!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Koblenz, Braubach and Rudesheim, Germany

This morning we arrived at Koblenz at about 7:30 AM. After breakfast,
we took a bus to Marksburg Castle situated above the city. The
Marksburg Castle has been many owners over the years since the 13th
century. Today it is owned by a German government castle authority.
Individual tours of the castle are not allowed but only group tours
coordinated by a tour guide. To ensure that unauthorized tours get in,
the tour guide gets a key to the one gate to get into the castle and
then the guide locks the gate from the inside. The key is huge, about
12 inches in length, and the guide keeps it until the tour ends and she
(or he) unlocks the gate.

The castle has been renovated in stages but most is from the 15th
century. The paths are cobblestone but very rough cobblestone and with
old people (like us) it is sometimes hazardous. None today though.

(I've always wondered who in the castle staff was in charge of replacing
in batteries in the smoke detectors. I didn't relalize that they had
smoke detectors in the middle ages but I see them all the old castles!)

To get to the Marksburg Castle to ship stopped in Koblenz and we took a
bus to the castle. After touring the castle the buses took us to
Braubach where the ship was waiting for us. Then we cruised for most of
the afternoon down the Rhine. It seemed that almost every 10 km or so
the was a camp site for hunbdreds of tents and campers.

We saw plenty of castles along the river. There seemed to be a couple
every town we passed. All high up the towns in the hills.

At about 4:00 PM we arrived at Rudesheim where we visited a museum for
mechanical music instruments. Not just player pianos but those with
violins, drums, horns. Pretty much any musical instrument you can think
of. I did videos of a number of the instruments and will put them on
YouTube when we get home.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cologne, Germany

This morning was a very pleasant cruise down the Rhine River with small
towns and farms as we moved toward to Cologne. Along the river are
kilometer markers with tenths of kilometers markers between. According
to the map, we started this cruise at 867 kilometers from its source and
the end of the cruise at Basel, Switzerland is at 170 kilometers. Right
now in Cologne we are at the 685 kilometer mark. Before we reached
Cologne we passed Dusseldorf, a large city but not as large as Cologne
(or Koln in German).

We arrived at Cologne at around 12:30 PM and we are docked right in the
center of the town. That is one benefit of river cruises as opposed to
ocean cruises, the ship (or boat) can get much closer to the town or
city you are visiting. Because we are so close to the city center we
took a walking tour from the ship that took about 4 hours. We went by
any number of churches but the largest and most famous is the Cologne
Cathedral. This cathedral is monstrous as you can see from the photo
with its twin spires that are 157 meters in height. As most large
churches and cathedrals in Europe it took a long time to build and
complete. In this case 632 years! The inside of the Cathedral was
huge. I don't recall being in a church where the ceiling was so high.

Along with the many side altars and some sarcophagi (most tombs are in
the crypt the high altar has a reliquary (repository for relics) that is
purported to hold the remains of the Three Magi. The guide noted that
these were the oldest Christian relics as those of the shepherds have
not been found! I would not bet any money on the authentication of the
relics but I'm sure that some believe that they are the real thing.

Following the Cathedral we went to the Roman-Germanic Archeological
Museum that had a remarkable collection of Roman burial tombs and burial
goods. And then to the brewery for beer and very good beer at that.

Tonight we had German entertainment in the lounge. Dancing, singing,
and all out crazy stuff. The two guys that did the show were absolutely
nuts but very good. It was a very good evening.

So to quote Samuel Pepys, "And to bed."


This morning after breakfast, we took a canal boat ride for a couple of
hours. There were four buses of folks from the Viking Helvekia to took
this this tour on four canal boats. The tour was through the major
canals throughout the central portion of Amsterdam. I don't know which
canal it is in the photo but it is one of the larger ones. After the
canal boat tour we went to the Van Gogh Museum and that place was
packed. We were there two years ago after a transatlantic cruise. To
really see all of the museum you need more than just a few hours but
what we saw again was good.

Back at the ship and having lunch the ship left the pier in Amsterdam
and we are heading for the Rhine River. We have to take a river (or
canal) to get to the canal and we may be there now as we are at a lock.
We are in line to get in the lock so we are tied to the side of the
canal waiting for boats to get out of the lock and another passenger
river boat is ahead of us in line.

Cruising on a river boat is quite a bit different that cruising that we
have done on ocean cruise ships. First of all is the fewer passengers.
On the Maasdam coming from Boston to Rotterdam there were about 1300
passengers. On this boat there are about 190 passengers. Everybody
eats at the same time, no Bingo, no casino - the pace is a lot slower
and more leisurely.

Tonight we will cruise all night and arrive in the center of Cologne,
Germany late morning. Right now it is time for cocktail hour and our

Update: It is now Tuesday morning and I have been unable to send this so
I will try again this morning. The satellite is unreliable lately.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aboard the Viking Helvetia

After quite a hunt for our boat we are finally in our cabin aboard the
Viking Helvetia. We got a taxi at our hotel and told her that we wanted
to go to the Viking river cruise boats. We also told her that we did
not know where these particular river boats were but we thought that
they were on either side of the central train station. Unfortunately
she did not know where it will be and she spoke very little English.
After back and forth (and I am not a very patient person, as my wife
will tell you!) we decided -against my better judgment - to go to the
Central Station. At the location where a number of the river cruise
boats were docked we came across another party in a taxi looking for the
Viking Spirit (a sister boat of ours). Unfortunately their taxi driver
did not know either (or speak very much English) but we met a stranger
who thought they may be on the other side of the Central Station. To
make a log story short, we found the Viking river boats.

The cabin that we have is nice and is about the size of the hotel room
we had last night, although the shower/bathroom is a bit small but that
is the case in even in large ocean-going cruise ships. In our cabin we
found a bottle of champaign courtesy of our neighbor and travel agent,
Lin. That's the way to start off.

The boat stays at the pier tonight and we will take a tour or two
tomorrow and leave Amsterdam about 1:00 PM.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Amsterdam, Netherlands

We are getting closer to our first river cruise. Right now we are in Amsterdam after taking the train from Rotterdam. I guess I screwed up when picking the hotel here. Apparently I did not look very closely at the map when I picked the hotel. We took a taxi from the Central Station and it was a 20 minute ride to the hotel. We are inthe boonies! However, the hotel is very nice and the rate I got from was very good. The published rate was 202 euros (about 289 dollars) and we paid 105 dollars.

That's it for now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gouda, Netherlands

Today I have found that accent makes all the difference in the world. Let me give you the two examples. The first happened at the Central Station here in Rotterdam. We were taking the train to Gouda and the schedule showed that the train to Gouda would be leaving from track 11. On track 11 the sign showed that the next train was for Utrecht (or someplace else) but track 12 showed a train to Gouda so I asked the conductor on track 12 if this was the correct track for the train for Gouda (I pronounce it GOO-DA as in the cheese) and he said that he didn't know of any train to that place. I pointed to a sign and spelled out G-O-U-D-A and he said, "Oh, you mean GOW-DA! Yes, this is the right train." It's all in the pronunciation.

After visiting Gouda (as in GOW-DA) and we were on the tram back to our hotel and paying the conductor I said that we were going as far as the stop at Leuvehaven and the look on her face told me that the did not have a clue as to what I was talking about. I tried, "Just before the bridge" (the Leuvehaven stop is just before the Erasmus Bridge) and she asked, "What do you want to go to the beach for?" The Beach! I didn't want to go to the beach I wanted to go to Leuvehaven but this time gave it a hard sound on the "haven" part rather than a soft sound. That she understood! Again, it's all in the pronunciation.

As you can tell from the above we spent the day in Gouda and had a very good time. Although yesterday when I checked the weather forecast for today it called for rain in the morning and cloudy. Well, the forecast was close . . . it was warm, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. As with most cities in Europe, the central train station in Gouda was very close to the central part of the city. We visited a number of churches and the Stadhuis (town hall). The clock had a 'puppet show' as a part of it that went off two minutes after the hour and half-hour. I just uploaded it to YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Our time in Rotterdam was been great. We will be leaving probably around noon tomorrow for Amsterdam where we will spend the night and then join our Rhine River cruise there. The only prt that we are not looking forward to a schlepping the luggage up and down the stairs at the train stations to the platforms. Both of our suitcases are on wheels; Nancy's is a regular wheeled bag and probably weighs 40 pounds. Mine on the other hand is a huge duffle bag on wheels and it is probably close to 55 pounds. (Flying to Boston it was 52 pounds.) Because it is shapeless you can put so much more in it than a regular suitcase but that sucker is heavy. We'll see how we fare.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nieuwe Maas and Lek Rivers to Kinderdijk

This morning after breakfast we wandered down to the waterfront and
bought tickets for a boat ride down (or up,I'm not sure which) the
rivers to Kinderdijk (children's dike). The river ride is about an hour
and goes down the Nieuwe Maas (which flows right outside our hotel room
window) pass the Rotterdam skyline and more canals and then goes down
the Lek River. Nice scenery along the way and we were on the outside
top deck so we could see everything. The weather also cooperated as it
was probably in the low sixties.

At Kinderdijk, there are 19 windmills that line the banks of the
canals. Up until the 1950s these were operating mills that operated the
pumps that drained the marshland in the area. Even though they were
retired they still work and have been put on the United Nations world
monument list. The tour is three hours in length and it is an hour each
way on the rivers so we were limited to only an hour seeing the
windmills. Quite a site, though. Pictured is one of the windmills there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rotterdam and Delft, Netherlands

We have been in Rotterdam since yesterday morning after leaving the m/s
Maasdam and the first leg of our vacation trip. We are staying at the
Grand Tulip Hotel just across the Erasmus Bridge where the cruise ships
dock. The photo was taken from out 9th floor room and it is a great
location. Unfortunately, the wireless service in the room is not very
good because it is the farthest away from the antenna. However, if I
carry the laptop closer to the door I can connect to the access point
and then take it back to the desk. The woman at the desk said that she
would change us to another room with better access but we like the location.

After we checked in to the hotel, we walked down the main street
(Coolsingel) that the hotel is located on toward the Central Station so
we would have an idea where we had to go to get the train to other
cities. We also visited some of the shops and then stopped to have
lunch at an outside cafe. The sun was shining and pleasant (about 60)
so it was nice even when the sun went behind a cloud. Later we took a
boat tour of the port for a couple of hours and probably saw every crane
and shipping container in the port. The port is huge. Later we had
dinner in the bar of the hotel and, as Samuel Pepys would say, "and off
to bed." (If anyone has read Pepys' diaries you would recall the he
ended always every days activities with that phrase.)

This morning (Wednesday) after breakfast we took the tram to the Central
Station and took the train to Delft. It is only about a twenty ride and
getting off at Delft we got off at Delft Suid (Delft South). We just
stayed and waited for about 30 minutes for the next train to get us to
Delft. In Rotterdam when we left it was overcast; as we arrived in
Delft it was raining. And it continued to rain for the rest of the time
that we were there. I did not even take my camera out of my backpack
while we were there it was so bad. There were a couple of churches
there and other things that we wanted to see but it was terrible. We
had a late lunch in Delft and then took the train back to Rotterdam.

Back in Rotterdam we tok the tram that we thought would take us to our
hotel but when the conductor came to take our fare he informed us that
we were on the correct numbered route but were going to wrong way. We
got off at the next stop, went across the street to the tram stop and
waited for the next (correct) tram. The correct tram was jam packed
(and it was raining so everything smelled) which was good and bad. It
was bad in that it was packed and had to stand; it was good in that the
conductor could get down the aisle before we got off so the ride was free.

Right now we are resting in the hotel and the next important decision we
have to make is where to eat. It probably depends on whether it is
raining or not.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Evacuation at Sea

While having breakfast this morning, the Captain announced that the ship
has changed course and we were heading toward the west coast of Britain
due to an medical emergency. We would be going to Castlebury or a
helicopter would come to the ship and evacuate a passenger who has a
medical emergency. Later in the morning the Captain announced that a
helicopter would meet the ship and take the passenger.

When an announcement was made that the helicopter was on its way I went
up to the Crow's Nest to see if I could see the helicopter. I was not
there for long when all passengers were asked to leave the Crow's Nest
and then to leave the 12th deck. Giving up to see the helicopter I went
down to the Casino and was playing a slot next to the window when I
heard the helicopter overhead. From my vantage point at the slot
machine I saw the RAF Rescue helicopter hover overhead and saw then
lower the basket. They first hoisted the passenger's luggage into the
helicopter and then the basket with the passenger. Then they were off
to the coast of England.

We have seen passengers taken off ships while in port by ambulance but
this was the first time we had seen a helicopter evacuation at sea. The
cruises that we take generally have an older crowd (we are 70 and are
among the young folks!) so it is not uncommon to have medical
emergencies. In fact we have been on cruises where passengers have
died. Today was a first.

Edinburgh, Scotland

This morning we are in the North Sea on our way to Rotterdam,
Netherlands. That means for us packing! This has been a short cruise
for us, only two weeks and a few days. It has been enjoyable (as have
all of our cruises) but we are looking forward to the next phase of this

Yesterday we were in Queensferry, the port city for Edinburgh. During
the day we took a trip to see the Falkirk Wheel, a engineering marvel
shown in the photo. It is used to connect two canals at different
levels. In the past the two canals had been connected by a series of
about 10 locks to raise and lower boats between the two canals and it
took a few hours. The wheel, built in 2000 and opened in 2002, takes
boats and its canal water and raises (or lowers) the boats in about four
and a half minutes. It is quite a deal.

In the same area is remnants of the Antonine Wall that I was anxious to
see. In the past I had seen Offa's Dike, a dirt dike separating the
ancient kingdom of Mercia and Wales, and Hadrian's Wall, separating
Roman-Britain and Scotland so I wanted to see what was left of the
Antonine Wall. This wall was constructed about 124 AD and it is north
of Hadrian's Wall and, unlike Hadrian's Wall, it is a dirt wall rather
than a brick and stone wall. It was an attempt to extend the Roman
presence in Britain further north. Not much of the wall is left as it
passes through people's back yards but at least we were there to see
it. We were going to see the location of a Roman fort (the fort is long
gone) but Nancy couldn't keep up so we begged off. But it was a good walk.

Before dinner there was a Scottish show including pipers, drums, dancers
and the like. It was 'standing room only' in the Rembrandt Lounge
unlike some of the shows during the cruise. Then in the dining room
there was a ceremony to 'bring in the Haggis.' Haggis is a traditional
Scottish concoction of sheeps' parts and oatmeal (and other unknown
things) and people actually eat it. I have had it in the past and it is
one of those that it is only necessary to try it once!

As noted earlier today is packing day and tomorrow we will be leaving
the ship and will spend four days in Rotterdam. Our hotel in Rotterdam
- the Grand Tulip Centre - has wifi facilities so we can continue
documenting this trip.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Invergordon and Inverness, Scotland

Yesterday was a relaxing day at sea. (Actually all of these cruise days
are relaxing.) The only news of any import was the first bingo winnings
of the Eagans. The prize for that game was $141 but unfortunately there
were two additional winners for that game so we went away with $47.

This morning we are in Invergordon, Scotland and it looks to be a very
nice day. When we pulled in the harbor you could hardly see anything
with the fog. As the early morning (8:00 AM) goes on it is clearing
up. In a few minutes we will get a bus and are going to spend the day
in the city of Inverness. Will continue this when we continue.

And now we are back after visiting Inverness. It is about a 45 minute
bus ride from the port of Invergordon. We were under the impression
that there was a "hop-on hop-off" bus in the downtown portion of
Inverness. We stopped at the tourist office and asked where we could
get the "hop-on hop-off" bus and the girl informed us that they did away
with it. We had used the "hop-on hop-off" buses in Copenhagen, Rome,
Paris and a number of European cities and have found a convenient way to
see a number of the sites when you have a limited time to see them.

Armed with a map of the downtown area we took off on foot. Climbed up
to the top of the hill to see Inverness Castle that looks out over the
city and visited the Town House (called Town Hall most places), the
Cathedral and the Victorian Marketplace. The River Ness goes through
the center of the city and the river is crossed by an number of
convenient pedestrian bridges and small park-like areas along the
river. Eastgate, a continuous of the High Street, is closed off to
motorists and stalls a located in the middle of the street. It being
Saturday and the weather was very nice, a large number of people were
out and about.

We are back at the ship and will be leaving for Edinburgh at about 6:00 PM.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Seydisfjordur, Iceland

In yesterday's post from Husavik I neglected to point out one unusual
thing (at least I thought it was unusual) that we encountered there and
that was mosquitoes. As we were walking back to the ship they drove us
nuts. This place has more mosquitoes in the summer than Florida does.

Today we are in Seydisfjordur located at the head of a 10.5 mile long
fjord of the same name. The town was established by Danish merchants in
the mid-19th century as a trading post. Today it is the site of a
somewhat busy port for ferries from Europe. As we were walking into
town all numbers of trucks, cars, campers, motorcycles and bicycles came
from a large ferry to had just arrived. Most looked like they were here
for camping and exploring. Even the motorcycles and bicyclists were
loaded down with gear and looked like they were to be here for a spell.

The scenery was wonderful and have attached only one photo because it
take so long to send. (All of the photos from this cruise and the river
cruise will be posted on my Flickr account when we eventually get
home.) When we walked to town it was very nice outside - about 56
degrees. Unfortunately after we were out for an hour or so it started to
sprinkle and that continued off and on. Not a hard rain so we kept at it.

We had coffee and pastry as we were out but no other shopping so as a
result we have 675 kronas (a little over $5) in change that we didn't
get rid of. We have 2000 kronas that we will be able to exchange but
banks and currency exchanges don't take coins. It looks like some of
the grandchildren will get some of the 'neat' coins.

After we leave Seydisfjordur we will head east across the Norwegian Sea
and tomorrow we will be at sea as we sail toward our next port,
Invergordan on the east coast of Scotland.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Husavik, Iceland

As most cruise ships have some sort of ceremony when crossing the
equator or the International Date Line, they also have one when crossing
the Arctic Circle (and probably the Antarctic Circle). For the Maasdam
that crossing ceremony took place last night about 10:30 PM. It
consisted of persons with any type of mental derangement (i.e., any damn
fool) donning their bathing suits and jumping in the outdoor pool on the
Navigation deck. As you can tell from the photo there were quite a few
participating (yours truly is not a damn fool!) despite the fact that
the temperature was in the 40s, the wind was blowing and it was
raining. Quite different than we have seen when crossing the equator
and the International Date Line.

Today we are in Husavik a bit further east on the north side of
Iceland. The Navigation description for the port notes that it is "in a
cove between Husavikurhofdhi and Humpbaksniff." I can pronounce
neither name and have no clue as to the meaning of the first. If I had
to guess the meaning of the second I would guess 'place to sniff
Humpback whales.' Probably not even close but then it really doesn't

The village of Husavik (and I can pronounce that one) is another of the
former whaling stations on the Icelandic coast. Today the industries
are fishing, tourism and "Eco Tourism" as it touted as the "Whale
Watching Capitol of Europe." We have yet to hear of any whale spotting
since we have been here. There is a interesting Whale Museum in the
village in addition to the typical shops and cafes. One interesting
spot that I had never heard of was the Phallus Museum (also known as The
Icelandic Phallological Museum) - displaying the phallus of any number
of mammals but mostly whales. I guess there are museums of everything.

The weather today started out terrible. When we arrived here early this
morning it was raining and that lasted until about 9:30 AM. Then it
cleared up and just after noon the clouds cleared making it a very
pleasant day. Right now we are leaving the port and the temperature is
probably in the sixties. Let's hope it stays like that tomorrow.

Tonight we will again cross the Arctic Circle but no ceremony. Then on
to Seydisfjordur.