In which Mom goes on a wild tear

We’ve all had that moment (or at least those of us who are the “fun,” read “irresponsible,” part of the couple), where our responsible half, they who keep roofs over our heads, food on our plates, and everyone mostly on task, sighs a sigh of wistful desire. Well, mine happened today. Dad’s mountain bike is 25 years old, and in need of so much TLC at this point, it would be cheaper to replace it. This offends his sensibilities, so he’s been effectively without a mountain bike for years. Until today.

Bones3 truck-mount bike rack on an 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring

Bike, rack, and helmet #3.

I give you his new bike. Its another Specialized Rockhopper, and he loves it. The rack was pretty simple to put on, as far as trunk-mounted bike racks go. That means the swearing was kept to a minimum, and there was no blood spilt.

Keeping an eye on the bikes, because who needs a bike lock?

We took it out for a dry run with Beta. A traditional trip to the Panera downtown to grab some lunch and have some fun. Their kitchen sink cookies are not for the faint of heart, but oh so good if you share.

We hung out for a while, until the whinging from certain parties about going home became too much, got back on our (lovely, new) bikes and headed home. The ride is surprisingly flat (yay floodplain), which made testing out and finding gears so much easier.

After we got home, the statement was made: I want to go to the beach (guess who). After some digging to find a beach with other things to do. Apparently we were not doing bathing suits today. Some pretty slick Googling came up with Castle Island. Beach, walking trail, dog beach, perfect!

After some finagling, browbeating, and the promise to play Minecraft when we got back, we piled everyone (including the dog) into the car and took off for South Boston.

Handful of periwinkles, all still alive. One is poking its head out.

The place is surprisingly pretty. It is right next to the docks for the really big ships, so we got to watch a cruise ship put out to sea. Beta and I walked the beach, while Dad and Alpha walked the dog around the causeway. Beta turned out to be the periwinkle whisperer. We didn’t count how many she found, but they were all still alive. We put them someplace safe to wait for the tide to come back in.

Safe place for periwinkles (we hope)

We had a great walk, and found a couple of live oysters, too. After a while, we started down the causeway towards the open ocean. Beta walked back on the outside of the fence, only having to jump across about half way back (no more asphalt to walk on, and I lost my nerve). We met up with Dad, Alpha and the dog a little while later, and packed up to head home.

Not too shabby a day!

Beta and her oysers

Stargazing At MOS

There’s a small, boring backstory: Meghan renewed our membership with the Museum of Science (MOS), then asked me if we should renew it (she asked me via text, so she may have a different order of events).  I said we shouldn’t, since the girls haven’t been interested in going and we basically did not go at all last year — HOWEVER if we were to actually go just once I would be happy to renew while we were on-site.  Despite talking about this all over text, Meghan’s disappointment was evident as she dutifully cancelled the renewal.

I considered my options carefully, as the couch isn’t a particularly comfortable place to sleep, and gently reminded her that the MOS has an observatory that they open on Friday nights to view the stars — therefore it would be open later that night, and I would happily renew while we were there.  All we had to do was get the kids on board with going, or figure out what they would do while the two of us went.  (The girls thought this was a cool idea.  50 points to Gryffindor.)

Saturn

Credit to https://bkellysky.wordpress.com/

A few hours later we found ourselves standing on the roof of the MOS parking garage, waiting for our turn at the telescope.  Sadly, I could not photograph the view from the telescope, but it was a surprisingly clear view of Saturn.  A number of other people have taken photographs that are pretty similar to what we saw.  Happily the docent was informative and happy to answer questions, and didn’t make us feel rushed.  The MOS seems to have crowd management around the telescope down pat.

While we were waiting our turns, we took a few other pictures of Boston and astronomical phenomena, and watched the city bustle around us.

Jupiter and moon

Look to the left and up from the moon, that’s Jupiter. High, thin clouds were moving in, backlighting the view and obscuring the dimmer stars. The photo was taken with my cell phone, apologies for the potato-like quality.

 

Sledding in Wilmington

Wilmington sits in region of Massachusetts that is sadly bereft of protrusive terrain.  Coming from hilly Connecticut, I quickly noticed the lack of sledding opportunities.

It’s not all sad flatness, however.  We have a great prominence left by the glaciers at the south end of town, by a local ball field.  I’m not sure if the hill or the field have a name – Google Maps is currently mum.  It appears to be about 100′ high.

From the road, you would never know a sledding track is there, except for the number of cars in the parking lot that appear immediately after a snowfall.

There are two sledding tracks, one steeper than the other.  The flatter one is a favorite of the little kids, but the “ruts” tend to be better defined on the steeper track (ironically, making that one the safer track as you’re less likely to drift off-course).

Visiting the USS Albacore

My earlier plan to hide under the bed not-withstanding, we decided to head out into the weather to do something fun today. What to do?

We could have gone to the Science Museum, or the Aquarium. We could have gone to see the Constitution and the Bunker Hill Memorial (on Breed’s Hill, but who’s keeping track). Nope. We have several submariners in the family, and there is a submarine open to the public in New Hampshire. Here we come, USS Albacore! wpid-DSC_0206.jpg

The guys running the museum are fantastic. They clearly like well-behaved kids. The girls were told they could touch everything, get into the bunks, and drive the boat (who, apparently will veer towards dives).

wpid-DSC_0195.jpg wpid-DSC_0197.jpg

And touch and drive and try out the bunks they did!wpid-DSC_0202.jpgwpid-DSC_0194.jpg

According to both Dad and the girls, this is a much better submarine to visit than the USS Nautilus. The guys working the museum agreed. “We don’t talk about that other boat down in Groton. We clearly have the better boat.” We happily spent well over half an hour poking around, trying out bunks, and getting into mischief in the galley. It was just a fantastic day over all.

And we accidentally visited Kittery, Maine. Not many places you can say you accidentally visited a state just by taking the wrong bridge…

AGSS Albacore

When the weather outside is rotten, the logical thing to do is find some indoor activities.  Today was such a day so we went to visit AGSS Albacore, an experimental research submarine, in Portsmouth, NH.

Alpha child in a bunk

This is one of the more spacious bunks. Some were in dark corners with equipment dangling over the bunk – close enough that if you rolled over you would knock it with your shoulder or hip.

The main museum is the submarine, with a nearly-full-access self-guided audio tour.  By full-access I mean lying in the bunks, playing with the dive-plane controls, flipping switches, and turning dials.  The engine room is completely open (visually, if not physically, since some of the more dangerous bits have barriers).

Crew's mess; Alpha child fixing her shoe

The crew’s mess doubles as a recreation area. Backgammon and checkers; I don’t think anyone had time to play chess (not a reflection on submariners – I’ve known a few that could beat me handily at chess)

It was cool because it gave an idea of how the crew lived.  Tight quarters everywhere and no wasted space.  Fifty guys shared a couple of toilets; I can’t imagine the smell.

Itty-bitty toilet

Why did they tile the floor?

The submarine itself was an experiment and was refit several times over its lifetime with enhancements like new propulsion, including an uncommon twin screw design.

Twin screws

I read up on submarine design before the trip. Twin counter-rotating screws like this are unusual, but several Soviet-Russian submarines sported them as well. This is one of the only examples in the American fleet.

The experience is much better than touring the USS Nautilus.  The Nautilus is ok if you’ve never seen the inside of a submarine, but everything is off-limits so the tour takes five minutes (or less if you have small children).  The guys in the museum office “don’t talk about the Nautilus” and felt quite a bit of pride in the openness of the Albacore vs. the Nautilus.  We were in there for nearly three-quarters of an hour, and another half hour in the museum shop (including a video of how the got the submarine to it’s present location).