Wales 2015

Well, technically this is “England, Wales, Ireland, and back to Wales,” but that’s a little wordy. Most of our trip to Wales in August, 2015 was, indeed, spent in Wales. Except for the 15 nights spent somewhere on the Atlantic, crossing over and back on the Queen Mary 2. Plus another two nights getting from Chicago to NYC on the train. This trip was completely airplane-free, so it took a while to get there and back. Kevin and I were gone for five weeks, the longest trip we’ve ever taken together. The main focus of our journey was a self-guided walking tour along a very small section of the 186-mile long Wales Coast Path. We walked a portion of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. We both took a ridiculous amount of photos, plus I took video, and all will be revealed, starting very soon. maybe even today.

the nice thing about disembarking from the Queen Mary is that it’s fast and efficient.  we walked to our assigned place for disembarking…it was the Winter Garden again.  Our scheduled departure was 9:50, but when we got that at 9:30, they started herding us out!  we stood in a huge customs line once we were in the terminal, but then got called out of line and into a tiny little line because we’re American!  yaaay for being american!

We climbed into a cab, and he was a speedy driver who knew what he was doing, and soon we were buzzing up the west side, and got to Penn Station by 11:00!  amazing.  we found an elevator to get down to the main level – we’d had to try to maneuver up the escalator with our too many bags when we’d arrived in NYC on the way to wales.

We dropped all our bags at the Amtrak lounge and walked over to the High Line, a relatively new park in NYC.  the first part of it was opened in 2009, and the final section in 2014.  here’s what wikipedia sums up about it:

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line.

it was kind of cool, and here’s kevin, before we started encountering masses of people.


on the left is a cool part on top of the street – there are steps on it that you can sit on, and watch the traffic go underneath you.  there’s a clip on the “saturday night live” opening of one of the guys in the show hanging out there.  we didn’t see him.


this gives you a better idea of all the people, and there were even more as we continued to walk.


the view from the steps.


it was a hot day, and got hotter, and we walked around a while and stopped into a vintage poster shop because they had a poster in the window of a vintage “grace line” ship poster.  it was $900.  we didn’t buy it.

more walking, more heat…we just wanted to get on that train!  we got a delicious burger a some outside food happening near penn station, then went inside and relaxed til our train started boarding.  we were happy that this time we’d checked our bags all the way to springfield, so we didn’t have to deal with them.

we got into our tiny cabin, and this fabulous pick was resting there.  i just saw it in my bedroom the other day, because i took it home.


the train pulled out of the station, i think it was about 3:30, whoo hoo!  but after about ten minutes it stopped. and then they had to pull it back to the station!  i don’t know what was wrong with it.  we decided to go to dinner even though i wasn’t hungry at all, because the train was full and the train steward said there would be a stampede for the dining car later.

the power went out a couple of times as we ate, but our waiter was prepared and gave us a glow stick.


a little less fancy dinner than those on the queen mary!  dessert was no-sugar vanilla pudding.

we were still sitting in the tunnel, mind you, but the train finally started moving at six.

we passed the scenic Hudson River, and there were lots of people out enjoying the day, and i realized it was Labor Day weekend (only because i saw it on the news).

we went to bed very early.

when we got up on saturday, i realized that we were three and a half hours behind schedule – there seemed to be no chance that we’d make our 1:45 train from chicago home to springfield.

i wonder why i took this photo?  maybe because i was thinking about all the beauty we’d seen, and how ugly this place was.


ditto this…this is when we were heading into chicago, i believe.


and now, sitting here exactly 364 days after we left for our trip last year, i can’t even remember what happened when we got back to chicago.  i think we just sat in the sleeper car lounge and hung out for a while.  ate some food.

here’s the last picture from that day, the clock on the wall says 9:40, relaxing with a glass of wine and Winne, who was glad we were home.


later in the evening, winnie was happy to move to kevin’s lap.


and the next morning things were back to normal, with lester trying to relax as usual.


whew.  i can’t believe it was so long ago, i can’t believe this is the final posting, i can’t believe i actually finished posting before a year passed, but also can’t believe that it’s taken me this long.

in my journal on the last day, i wrote that i’d love to go back and walk other parts of the coast path.  i know it’s supposed to get more challenging the farther north you go, but i did manage to survive many up and downhills.  we could do it, and it’d be fun.

but then there are also so many other places we could go…

we’ll just have to see.  and i’ll have to start planning.

ok then,

mrs. finally finished posting about wales which was an entire year ago hughes.



here’s the very last video!  i can’t believe it’s the final one…by this time, i think i’d shot enough video of the Queen Mary 2 interior on our crossing to Southampton, plus other videos of other trips, so these are exclusively shots of the sea from our balcony on Deck 11.


ok then,

mrs. winding up the trip after almost a year hughes.



Land ho! i staggered out onto our balcony at about 4:30 on friday morning to see us going back under the Verrazano Bridge, and this ship passed us.


here we are, getting closer and closer.







here’s a little bit about the history of the bridge, from a Smithsonian article.

The History of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, 50 Years After Its Construction
Built in 1964, the span still stands as Americas’ largest suspension bridge

(The Museum of The City of New York / Art Resource, NY)
By Jerry Adler
As long ago as 1910, when a steady parade of steamships bearing immigrants passed through the Narrows—the mile-wide channel at the entrance to New York Harbor—engineers envisioned a great bridge as a gateway to the New World. When it finally opened, 50 years ago this month, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge—honoring the 16th-century Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, though not to the extent of spelling his name correctly—boasted the longest suspended span in the world: 4,260 feet, or four-fifths of a mile. Even after the great era of steamships had passed, the bridge held sway, dictating the design of the Cunard liner Queen Mary 2, once the world’s largest passenger ship, which first sailed in 2003, so that at high tide its funnel would pass beneath the roadway with 13 feet to spare.

Connecting Brooklyn with Staten Island, it is still the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, 11th in the world. The crowning achievement of the structural engineer Othmar Ammann and of New York’s imperious master planner Robert Moses, it was built for $320 million (about $2.5 billion in today’s currency), more or less on budget, a standard of frugality that present-day New York can only dream of. Ten thousand men worked to build the bridge, from “punks” lugging heavy bolts to foremen dubbed “pushers” to John Murphy, the superintendent, whose temper and sun-and-wind-hardened face led his charges to call him Hard Nose behind his back. Three men died. The bridge’s construction was vividly chronicled by Gay Talese, then a cub re=orter for the New York Times, whose book, The Bridge, is now being reissued in an expanded edition by Bloomsbury. It tells of Mohawk Indian ironworkers who made a specialty of walking the high steel and of James J. Braddock, once a world heavyweight boxing champion (Joe Louis took his title), by then a welding machine operator. “The anonymous hard-hatted men who put the bridge together, who took risks and sometimes fell to their deaths in the sky, over the sea—they did it in such a way that it would last,” Talese recalls in an interview
Toward the end of 1964, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge-linking the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island-was completed. Fifty years later, it remains an engineering marvel.
When it was finished, a ride across cost drivers 50 cents, or the equivalent of less than $4. But we should be so lucky: Today the cash toll is $15. Old-timers still mourn the sundered neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where hundreds of homes were destroyed to make way for the approach, and the sleepy, almost rural character of Staten Island when it was linked to the rest of New York City only by ferryboat.
To Talese, the Verrazano is about more than transportation. “A bridge, in its ultimate form, is a work of art,” he says, and one can see his point. Sunlight glints off the pair of monumental steel towers, 70 stories tall, carrying the curvature of the earth into the sky, where their tops are exactly 15⁄8 inches farther apart than at their base. At night, lights pick out the graceful curve of the four great cables, each three feet in diameter, spun from enough steel wire to reach more than halfway to the moon. The bridge thrums with the traffic of a million and a half vehicles weekly, its passengers “suspended,” as the poet Stephen Dunn wrote, in 2012, “out over the Narrows by a logic linked / to faith.”

i went back to bed for a little bit, but got up again before six to see this magnificent view.


it was great that our cabin was on the right side to see this; whenever we go back, we’ll somehow have to remember which side we were on.


we got breakfast and took it out on the deck, the only people to do so, just like we were the only ones eating out there before we set sail from southampton.

this bee thoroughly enjoyed my marmalade.




we were excited to disembark – we were going to board the train back to springfield later that afternoon.

soooo close to the end of the trip now…i have one final video, a few random shots i took during our voyage across the atlantic, then a few photos from the very final leg of our journey!  i may actually complete these posts before August 1st, one year to the day when we left.

ok then,

mrs. not travelling right at this moment hughes, but already planning another trip.



Wednesday was one more day of feeling crummy, but at least we were sick on the way home, not during the hiking and sightseeing part of our trip.

it was the day of the talent show, and i’m sorry i missed it, because you just never know what kind of stuff you’ll see at the talent show.

we did go to the buffet for dinner, but that’s about it.

thursday we both felt better, whew.  we walked six times around the deck, and it was good weather.  Lots of packing.

we did see one last lecture; charles barclay talked about meteors and asteroids.  i guess i felt so alarmed about the possibility of an asteroid hitting earth some time in our lifetime, that i took photos of these tree slides he had.




hmm.  since i can’t remember what was so alarming about all this, i won’t worry about it right now.

we had a nice dinner back in the dining room with our original dinner companions.

during the voyage, we’d spotted the Romanian girl classical pianist with a pretty blonde girl – i think we saw them together at the buffet sometimes when we went there.  the blonde had very big blonde hair, but the Romanian was wearing her fancy performing dress at the buffet.  but then, there was a picture of the blonde in the day’s program, and she was a singer.  our plan was to see her perform, but it just didn’t happen.

so, it was a rather anti-climactic last day at sea, but we were eager to get back home.

ok then,

mrs. last full day on the QM2 hughes.


Closer and closer to home on the QM2 – Tues. Sept. 1st, 2015

July 24, 2016

amy’s birthday!  i tried to call her a couple of times, but couldn’t reach her. even though i still wasn’t feeling so great, we got tickets to the planetarium show in the afternoon. we attended the morning lecture “secrets of the titanic,” which was interesting, but i can’t remember one single secret about her. after […]

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Crossing the Atlantic on the QM2 – Monday, August 31st, 2015

July 23, 2016

Ok, here’s the crazy thing – i have no photos of all of this day!  that’s because i started getting sick.  no fun. we did manage to do some stuff anyway. we went to an interesting talk by a gentleman named Michael Dispezio, which was called “Whales, Dolphins and other Marine Mammals.”  this must be […]

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Sailing home from Wales on the QM2 – Sunday Aug 30th, 2015

July 22, 2016

sunday morning we got up early again and started watching a fascinating documentary about Roger Ebert.  It was still chilly outside, about 57 or so. one great thing about making the transatlantic crossing on the QM2 is that we gradually set the clocks forward, or back, like we did on the way home. We walked […]

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Wales – on the QM2, Saturday Aug. 29th, 2015

July 21, 2016

We got up early, and kevin brought me tea in bed.  Nice!  We went to the breakfast buffet at about 7:30, and because it was so early it wasn’t crowded at all.   also nice.  i loved that they had fresh figs. nobody was out walking, either. it was a cold and windy morning, and […]

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Wales trip – on the Queen Mary 2, Friday, Aug. 28th, 2015

July 17, 2016

first full day of sailing!  i got tickets for the planetarium show, and kevin and i decided to go to the astronomy lecture. at a little after ten in the morning, when i was going down in the elevator to get us another round of tea/coffee in the little area near the planetarium were the […]

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Wales Trip – Wed. Aug 26th & Thurs. Aug 27th – a video

July 15, 2016

here’s a bit of video of the path in the New Forest, as well as setting sail from Southampton on the Queen Mary 2.

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