By Cecil Hoge
August 11th, 2021
We are back in Montauk for vacation in the new normal. Everyone we speak to tells us that Montauk this summer has been “crazy”. Delmack, the Jamaican lady who comes and cleans our room each day, tells us Montauk has been “crazy”.
”People do not want to go in town…it’s just too crazy…no parking, cars jutting in and out everywhere, people everywhere, no space in the shops, no tables free in the restaurants…yes, Montauk is crazy this summer.”
It was not that way last summer when many stayed away from indoor restaurants and shops. The town was still crowded, the beaches were crowded and outdoor restaurants were crowded, but then many wore masks and many were far more cautious in their vacation celebrations.
The Pandemic still about, but far more people have been vaccinated and there is a sense that things are returning to some kind of normal.
But at the WaveCrest, our Montauk vacation residence, it seems normal is already here. In the mornings, there are beautiful sunrises most days. Early in the morning, the beaches are empty except for one or two fishermen and some eager early morning walkers or joggers. During the day, the umbrellas pop up on the beach and beach chairs are laid out and families and kids come and then girls looking for boys and boys looking for girls come and then, others looking for each other come…they all sit around in little clusters and the only sound heard except that of the ocean surf is the motoring sound of the beach buggy zipping back and forth, hauling umbrellas and chairs to their appointed places. As mid-morning comes the voices of kids and adults are heard drifting across the beach with the sound of the ocean murmuring quietly or roaring loudly with waves breaking on the beach.
Today, the ocean is murmuring…making a sound more like Long Island Sound than the great Atlantic Ocean. Other days, the surf is booming. We came the day after a tropical storm and then the sea was still fierce with waves crashing in thunderous booms. But no more, the weather has turned hot, the wind has dropped to a stall, the sun blisters everything that exposes itself for more than 20 minutes. It is as hot as Montauk gets. We are at the end of Long Island and usually cool breezes sweep over these rolling hills and somewhat barren landscape and generally it never really gets that hot. But these days it is.
Big Doings are going on in the world. The present President is struggling with his new job and his recent decision to depart Afghanistan. It is not going well, two bombs went off near the airport in Kabul and over 100 people were killed, including 13 U.S. servicemen. Leaving is not easy and whether it could be done better is on the minds of many. I have decided that our exit from Afghanistan was not correctly planned, but I have no knowledge of what good withdrawal would look like. Hopefully, something less than the present chaos. That said over 100,000 people have been flown out and many thousands more are hopefully waiting to leave. Whatever, it is not a pretty or a proud exit. For those who remember, it reminds one of the last days of Saigon.
On the stock market front, all is seemingly well. Markets seem to be drifting ever higher in this strange summer. Occasionally, the market take tip, but even when they do that they remain near all time highs. The immediate market collapse that was predicted by the former President, like the reversal of recent election results and the magical disappearance and demise of the Pandemic, has not come to pass.
In fact, on the Coronavirus front, Covid 19 has again raised its ugly face. As we begin this vacation, cases are running 140,000 a day, hospitalizations are again getting very high in certain Southern States and deaths are running over 1,000 per day. In short, in spite of vaccinating almost 50% of the population, the number of cases and hospitalizations are higher than at the same time last year. Deaths are running just a little above their levels at the same time last year. We shall see how that is proceeding as one vacation in Montauk melds into another vacation in Maine.
Two vacations in the same year may sound obscene, but, hey, we are getting on in age and we have to make the most of it…so, two vacations is this year’s plan.
One thing has not changed at the WaveCrest, that is the very convenient food truck called the WaveCrave. It is parked about 50 feet from our motel room door. That is a truly great feature in this crazy busy summer season in Montauk. All that is necessary is to mosey out of our motel room door, walk the 50 feet and give Steve my order for the morning. And doing so, Steve, the proprietor of the WaveCrave truck, fills me in on the latest.
”Montauk has been Crazy this summer,” he says, echoing the very words of Delmack, our Jamaican cleaning lady. We will hear that more and more as this vacation goes on and we go on to the next vacation. The word “crazy” seems to be the new byword for this summer.
“It’s really crazy…prices of everything are going up, people want their stuff fast and I can’t get no help…I’m looking, but you can’t find people to work.”
After some preliminary chitchat on the state of the summer and Steve’s business, I place my order with Steve – a Basic Joe (2 eggs, sausage & cheese on a roll) for me and a Nancy Atlas (3 eggs, avocado and some other health ingredients in a wrap) for my wife. Steve informs me that the two orders will be ready in 8 minutes. I go off and sit down at a nearby table where I can survey the sea and consult my oblong.
Oblong is the descriptive term given to cell phones by a Japanese writer I happen to be reading. “Klara and The Sun” is the book and Kazuo Ishiguro is the author. It is the the strange tale told by an AF (artificial friend) about a sickly young lady. Oblong is the term applied to peoples’ cell phones and I think it is quite appropriate.
After scanning incoming emails, I scan the news…it is not good. Nobody is happy about the mess in Afghanistan and the Covid numbers are stubbornly high. It seems that the disease has no respect for our wishes. That is worse for the present President, since he has promised to make it go away. Well, he promised to get out of Afghanistan and indeed he did that. But what a mess. The fight against Covid seems similarly messy. The more we vaccinate, the more the virus seems to stick around. This summer the problem is being blamed on the Delta Virus, the latest mutation of that tricky Coronavirus.
”Cecil,” Steve calls out and I slip my oblong into my pocket and meander over to Steve. All is well, I pick up my breakfast orders and head back to the hacienda 50 feet away. My wife and I set up the little table on the porch where we can observe the first stirrings of people out on the beach. My wife sits in the portable rocking chair we brought, I sit in the comfy lounge chair that came with room. We sip coffee and munch away at our breakfasts. Out in front of our porch the waves break on the sand and a hot new day has begun. My wife complains that her sandwich is too big. Considering that it is advertised to have 3 eggs, that is no surprise. Fresh air blows in from the Atlantic onto our little porch overlooking the sea, the sun is getting higher, a few people are walking along the ocean beach. Life is good.
In Montauk, I spent the days going for a swim in the ocean while my wife enjoyed the comforts of her much larger oblong (an iPad Pro) and some good books, sitting in the rocker, overlooking the beach, her morning made in the shade on our covered porch. As noon passes, each day we ponder eating choices. This year we are determined to eat in as many restaurants as will have us.
Of course, as a matter of ritual, we go to Gossman’s, which my wife finds lacking in the swordfish she ordered while I happily munch down what appears to be quite fresh tuna. Some days chicken, some days chicken feathers. Our meals with Gossman’s have been hit or miss recently with one invariably having a much better meal than the other. There are compensations for this not so reliable food service. You sit outside in the shade or inside the main restaurant with windows wide open. Either way, there is a great view of the inlet with boats parading in and out is just a few feet away. The sea air is fine to breathe and you can feel lucky in just being there, even if your meal ain’t what it should be.
In the days that follow, we slip into a pattern of breakfasts from the WaveCrave in the morning, swimming or paddling or walking along the beach and heading out in the early afternoon for a sit down meal at one of the many local restaurants. My wife has this theory that a late lunch is better than a lunch and a dinner so that is our solution to dieting. I have admit that two squares a day sometimes don’t always make it for me and often I hit the vanilla ice cream later in the day.
Early in the trip, I discover that I have forgotten my all important paddling gloves so I meander over to Amagansett to the Beach and Bicycle store to fix this omission. Beach and Bicycle quickly informs me that the summer has been “crazy” and that they are all sold out of paddling gloves. That is unusual because they usually carry a pretty wide selection of paddling equipment, but the lady informs me that there are “logistic” problems and that they sold out of all sorts paddling stuff. I don’t commiserate with her about “logistic” problems. Otherwise, I would spend an extra half day listing a litany of my “logistic” problems.
In any case, we both agree it has been a “crazy” summer. But all is not lost. The lady remembers they also sell bike gloves, so I buy a really sexy pair of TREK gloves with all sorts nice Italian names listed on them. The lady informs me they are the last pair she has and they are very good quality for just $65. These gloves are really more like bikini gloves, but I figure in the hot weather Montauk is experiencing, they might just be the thing I need. So, I snap them up before someone can come into the store and snatch them away.
And the $65. proves to be well spent because shortly afterward I ask her about where a good paddle spot might be where I can park my car. Most places on the East End require a Easthampton parking permit. For those of you who do not know it, Easthampton is the township that covers everything on the South Fork east of Southampton to Montauk. The parking permits cost 300 bucks a pop, but the real catch 22 is that the town doesn’t really issue any…you have a better chance of winning the New York lottery for 5 billion dollars. It seems the town of Easthampton does not want evil kayakers molesting their waterways and stumbling into their restaurants and stores.
Anyway, the lady gives me a tip on a great paddling spot on the North side of Amagansett off of Landing Road. It so happens that I actually know the spot and have paddled there several times before, but last year the Town of Easthampton had put up a sign saying parking stickers were required. The lady tells me that parking permits are no longer required there and so I get the good news I can go to what is surely one the prettiest paddling spots on Long Island.
Armed with this good news and my sexy new paddling (bicycle) gloves, I return to the WaveCrest…my mission accomplished. And of course, I tell my wife the good news. She remembers the spot and is happy to hear it.
On that good note, we head out for another afternoon lunch…this time to Duryeas. Now this a place that has a long history in Montauk. In the late sixties and the early 70s, there was a New York Assemblyman named Perry Duryea. He was reputed to be a very sharp and wise politician. He was known as the Silver Fox because of his silver white hair and trim frame. His family owned a lobster business in Montauk. In doing that, they set up some picnic tables out back where you could could come and have lobsters and beers. It was a pretty unassuming place, but it had really good lobsters, good fish and good beer to top it off with.
We used to go there for many, many years. Fast forward to the era of oblongs and the Pandemic and the same place has morphed into a super sleek and artsy-crafty seafood restaurant with some really good fish and lobsters at really high prices. I am not a fan of their service system which requires you to mark down on a paper menu what seafood specialities you want and what drinks you might require. As you come into the place there is a little sign informs you that “Everybody here is famous”. Whether that is to make you feel good or to attract famous people, I am not sure.
There is a nice French lady that, once the wait for table is over, leads you to a table. They have added some pretty striped cushions to wooden bench seats in one part of the restaurant and there is nice long dock with some nice tables and seats that leads out to several go fast boats that will, if you have an invitation, take you to some billionaire’s mega yacht. Pretty young ladies parade by on that dock past the tables of famous diners and on to the impressive GoFast boats.
The place is in one way very similar to original Duryeas, but now has been Euronized so the famous are sure to come and diners cannot escape for less than $200 a couple. And indeed, there are a lot pretty people pecking at their lobster towers while sipping some nice wine or a bit of the bubbly. And back to the subject of a wait, yes, there always is. Generally, it seems to be 20 to 40 minutes, although it may be faster for the chosen famous who occasionally drop by. The place starts and, no doubt, ends crowded, each day, presuming good weather, soft summer breezes and warm temperatures prevail.
My wife and I are partial to the Branzino which they serve whole with fish head intact and some delicious veggies and peppers and sauces surrounding the display. I have had similar servings of this fish in Italy and in Asia. And if the sauces are right and fish is fresh and veggies good, I really recommend that dish. We have had it at Duryeas a couple of times and each time we nominate it as our best meal in Montauk. As mentioned, I am not a fan of their self serve system. In particular, I do not like having to get up, walk over an order booth and order another wine for my wife and another seltzer for myself. I just think if you are going to spend $200/plus for lunch with your wife, people should come to your table and take your order and bring everything you ask for. But, it is what it is and I still think they do have the best fish in Montauk.
In Montauk, we ended up having many a lunch in many a place. Some were good, some were not. Pretty much everyday, I went for a swim in the ocean and for me that was grand. Several days, my wife and I went paddling on the North side of Amagansett in Acabonic harbor and that was grand…with birds aplenty, scenic water views and some tranquil peace on the water. On other days, I went for a paddle by myself, also in Acabonic Harbor.
During our stay in Montauk stock markets kept drifting upward. Some days the markets would take a momentary dip, but most days the markets would resume their relentless upward trend. Why stocks were moving upward was not exactly clear because economic reports were mixed and often there were earning disappointments in the case of individual companies or disappointments in employment reports. But the ever wise investors paid no heed to any economic concerns and markets just kept trending upward.
As the days passed in Montauk, the numbers of Delta virus cases began to steadily increase. And with the increase of cases, shortly thereafter came an increase hospitalizations and deaths. Since my wife is not a big fan of news, whether it comes on TV, internet or otherwise, I kept up with the goings on through my oblongs – my cell or my iPad. Because I like to look at charts, I took to looking at the interactive charts the New York Times publishes, like the one below showing the up and down progress of the Coronavirus since the beginning of the Pandemic until October 10th, 2021. By that time, the Coronavirus had kindly started to once again decline.
Of course, we all know that every media company has its agenda and the New York Times is well-known for its liberal leanings. That said, the charts I was looking at were tracking actual reported numbers of Delta variant cases, hospitalizations and deaths and these same numbers were also reported by many other media companies, as well John Hopkins Hospital, which has established a special section of their website to track the rise and fall of the Coronavirus.
As mentioned before, the rebirth of the Coronavirus through the Delta variant this summer was very embarrassing to Joe Biden, the present President. It was a key promise of his in getting elected to get control of the Coronavirus. And if one thing was very clear, it was that the Coronavirus was still not under control.
It is interesting here to note the various agendas of different left and right leaning media companies. Fox News was touting at every chance what a great tragedy it was for us to get out of Afghanistan, leaving our former friends and allies at the whim of the Taliban and what a great mess the immigrant problem was at the border. Strangely, this was the same media company backing the former President who declared it was policy of his to get out of Afghanistan. So, regarding Afghanistan, it would seem that Fox News was most upset that President Biden carried out the stated policy of the previous President in a messy manner.
And as mentioned, when Fox News was not talking about the collapse and terrible defeat of our efforts in Afghanistan, it was talking about the rush of refugees coming over the Mexican border. And indeed both of those things were happening in real time, so they both were true events.
Meanwhile, in another world away, CNN and MSNBC were busy discussing the terrible events of the January 6th “insurrection” and the fact that Donald Trump was still saying the election had been stolen from him. CNN and MSNBC ran videos again and again of the Congress being overrun by protesters and clips of The Donald saying he was robbed. It is also true that both those things were happening, but it was clear, and should be clear to anyone watching all three media networks, that each media network had an agenda and none were unbiased in their approach to the news.
Our days in Montauk were blessedly free from digital distraction and/or political discussions. We would get up, have a simple breakfast, swim or walk and go to lunch in the afternoon. My wife and I would have our 2 squares…that is, breakfast and a late lunch. After lunch, either my wife and I or just me would go for a paddle in Acabonic Harbor, taking in the scenic water views and watching birds happily munching on minnows and diving for larger fish.
Dinner most days was then omitted. We would come back to the room, watch the sun fade on the ocean, catch a little tube and retire. The omission of dinner was generally good for the diet except in my case, because almost every afternoon or evening I would run down to John’s Drive In and augment my calorie intake with vanilla ice cream. It was maybe not the best dietary schedule, but it surely was quite pleasant.
Our several weeks came and went as vacations do. The meals were good, the swimming was good, the walking, the paddling and the relaxing on the porch overlooking the ocean was all good. And as everyone said, Montauk was crazy. The restaurants had lines and in the stores you had to walk sideways just to get past clutches of customers. Each night, the sun would go down as we would watch the waves breaking from the comfort of our porch. somehow, the memory of the crowded restaurants and stores would fade with afternoon sun.
But soon, as in all things, the time passed and we headed home, back to the real world.
For next two weeks we returned to our real hacienda, which was not hard to do, since Montauk is only 60 miles from Setauket. There I re-entered the world of work and spent my time on ”logistic issues”. That consisted mainly in chasing container shipments, trying to figure out when they get on a ship, off a ship, on a truck and off a truck and finally in our warehouse. It was a merry chase. Perhaps, merry is not the correct word.
When not working on getting products to ship and sell, I am spending my time working on the two new boat models I plan to introduce in 2022. I plan to introduce a new larger pontoon boat to be named the FastCat 14.4. It will hold up to 4 people and a 20 hp motor. It will go 22 mph and I have been testing a prototype of this model at my house all this spring and much of the summer. I am also developing a new larger expedition Travel Canoe designed to take large quantities of gear for extended trips on lakes and rivers. We have already gotten two prototypes of that model and a 3rd prototype is shown above. It is not quite right, but it is getting close. The model above is to be called the Travel Canoe 17. Both the 14.4 and 17 refer to the feet lengths of the two models.
This year has been both satisfying and frustrating. Sales are up for the second year in row, but headaches about getting orders produced, shipments sent, containers into our warehouse, having stock of different models and getting orders shipped out…all these problems seemed to have been magnified by 10.
And of course, we are seeing, like virtually everyone else on planet earth, price increases on everything and delays in production, shipping in, shipping out. All of these problems cause additional problems with customers. Explaining where shipments are, when they are expected and when they will be shipped out adds a great deal of work, especially when almost every shipment coming in gets delayed.
I have been having things made around the world for over 50 years and I have never seen things this difficult, this screwed up. We are seeing this both in our fishing lure business and in our inflatable boat business. And whether it is packaging or shipping or materials or production, whether it is in the U.S., Asia or Europe, we are seeing day to day cost increases. And of course, that means that we will have to raise our prices for the coming year and what effect that will have God only knows.
So, Phil, the auto repair guy in Montauk, is not the only businessman unhappy with the state of the world.
This year, we planned something unusual…a second vacation. My wife and I have planned to go visit a cousin in York, Maine. So, after two weeks ricocheting between instructions to suppliers on new products and chasing existing products and pushing out old and new models, off we go to the great State of Maine.
To do that, we take the very convenient Port Jefferson Ferry to Bridgeport, Connecticut and after 20 minutes of wandering down some sorry looking streets in Bridgeport we manage to get on 95. From there it is quite literally a straight shot to York, Maine.
York, Maine is only a little over 4 hours away driving on Route 95. The nice point here is that you don’t have to think too much, since 95 leads directly past York, Maine. In fact, the only difficult part was following signs from the Bridgeport Ferry terminal to 95. It should be easy since it is less than 2 miles away, but at the very last turn, the one you need to make, the authorities have omitted to place any sign referencing 95. That led to a 15 minute detour around some of Bridgeport neighborhoods, but after several lefts, rights and a circle or two, we were on track, on the great highway 95 corridor.
Thereafter, it was all a piece of cake. and strangely, 95 was not its usual ”crazy”. It seems they have actually fixed some parts of that road, which from Bridgeport to New Haven to Providence always had bumpy, unpaved sections under construction to slow you down and slow your way through. This time the ride was blissfully smooth and without incident.
About 4 and half hours later we were checking into something called DockSide Guest Quarters. That consisted of an old Captain’s house on a promontory overlooking the York River and a nice collection nearby of bungalows with small suites overlooking York Harbor. Our room is quite comfortable. I should say rooms because there is an outer living room with a kitchenette to the side that leads directly to our bedroom. In front of the living room, there is a nice porch with the view you see in the picture above. We arrived at our quarters around 4 in the afternoon and immediately plopped down on the porch and watched a continual parade of boats coming into the river and going out into the ocean. York has long been an active little port with recreational boaters, lobstermen, lobster ladies, commercial fishermen, commercial fisher ladies coming and going with boats of many styles.
I can say we were happy with the hotel setup. It was indeed a very nice place. Because we both somewhat tuckered from our drive, we called my cousin to let her know we would catch up with her and her partner the next day. Since the day was getting on, I took over the main job of lining up victuals for evening. I accomplished that by walking down from our room, past the captain’s house, past the operating boat yard to a small bar situated directly overlooking York Harbor. There I ordered, guess what, two lobster sandwiches, french fries and cole slaw. While I waited for the meals to be prepared, I had a large seltzer and struck up a conversation with a husband and wife who were enjoying evening cocktails as the sun was slowly declining and the Maine chill was ascending. I asked what the summer had been like.
“It was crazy, all of Massachusetts and much of the rest of the country came this summer. The stores, the roads were all clogged with people and cars and it was impossible go almost anywhere.”
And so the operative word for this summer still remained ”crazy”. I talked a little more with the couple about York and the weather.
The guy asked me I where we came from. Long Island I replied.
”Well the weather is pretty much same. We don’t get a lot of snow in winter here. They do get a lot of snow 5 miles inland, but here the ocean keeps the temperatures moderate and generally the winters are mild.”
I did not want to disagree, but already it seemed to me that the weather in York was a good 10 degrees cooler than Long Island and that afternoon as the sun was setting, it was getting downright nippy. But no matter. I was happy to talk to the couple and get some info on York.
The guy turned out to be a kayaker. That gave me an opportunity to ask about put-ins, take-outs and nice places to paddle. It turned out that there was a nice scenic place to paddle right around the hotel. The hotel was situated on something called Harris Island. I would not have called it an island because a road led onto the island. My preferred term would have been peninsula, but who was I to argue with the locals? Anyway, my conversation with the nice couple gave me a pretty good idea where to go for at least that paddle.
The open bar had an interesting setup in order to provide food. About 20 feet from the open bar and tables with umbrellas was a food truck that made up whatever meals and snacks customers ordered. In no time the lobster sandwiches and sides were ready. I grabbed the bag with the food, finished my seltzer and said goodbye to the nice couple.
Within minutes, my wife and I were enjoying our lobster sandwiches in our quaint room overlooking the York River. Since we had savored lobster sandwiches in Montauk, that immediately led to a family discussion of who had the best lobster sandwiches. That was hard choice, but my wife and I quickly came to the belief that it was a close choice between Steeve’s lobster sandwiches at the WaveCrave or the DockSide Bar lobster sandwiches. We gave the to edge to the DockSide Bar which had lobster slightly fresher and juicier, but trust me it was a very close call.
We spent the next several days meeting up with my cousin and her partner, Kerry, and going sometimes to their house for lunch or dinner and sometimes, here and there in York for lunch or dinner.
My cousin is a therapist, so she deals with people’s problems, be they real, imagined, physical or mental. And I gather people in York have just as many problems as they have on Long Island. Her customers, aka her patients, suffer a wide variety of physical and psychological problems. I gather that many of her patients came to her specifically because they could not get help from their regular doctors. And whether the problems were physical or psychological problems, one thing was always true – their problems were real to them.
In the last year, because of the Pandemic, my cousin tells me the way she treated her patients changed. Pre-pandemic, patients came to her office and sat down in front of her and laid out their problems two or three feet away. Since the onset of the Pandemic, she treated patients exclusively by Zoom. And apparently, business by Zoom has been a boom. No lockdown threatened her business, which apparently became busier than ever, with back to back Zoom meetings instead of face to face meetings in her office.
I asked her how that was working out.
”Great,” she said, ”I do not have to leave my house and the patients seem more at ease to tell me what is really bothering them.”
And I gather a lot is bothering her patients, dealing with deaths of a relative or a loved one, suffering from bouts of insomnia, some with deep traumas coming from sexual assault at one time or another, some dealing with incessant pain, some dealing with a barrage of other physical ailments, some with deep insecurities about their jobs, their life, some with hard economic problems, some dealing with alcohol and drug abuse, some just freaked out by the stress caused by the Pandemic or money problems, some dealing with stress caused by the patients themselves. So my cousin was monitoring a host of problems and trying to advise and help her patients with all sorts of physical and mental issues.
And from what my cousin was telling me the business of coping with psychological and physical problems was booming. The Pandemic seemed to be multiplying the problems people faced day to day. Her days were fully booked from 9 to 5 with patients from all over Maine with many problems. How to advise all her different patients seemed to me a very difficult job, but my cousin Wendy had been doing this for years and apparently is able to work her way through other people’s problems.
I asked her if she thought dealing with patients was easier before or during the Pandemic.
”It is easier for me now because all I have to do turn on the computer. It gives me certain distance between me and my patients and, in many ways, it seems easier for the patients. They seem to feel freer to tell me what their real problems are. It is as if the computer puts a plexiglass wall between us and they feel free to express the truth because I am not actually in the room. One thing is for sure. There are a lot more problems out there and many more people need help.”
I tried to think what it must be like dealing with lots of people with lots of problems. In a way, I feel that happens with some of my employees. They sometimes have problems and sometimes I have to figure out ways to help them. But the operative word is sometimes. Thinking of my cousin dealing with non-stop problems day after day, I am not sure I would not develop have deep psychological problems myself just listening to other people’s deep psychological problems. I can only admire cousin’s fortitude in dealing with an endless parade of Zoom patients.
My cousin happens to be a fairly active lady, so during our visit we go kayaking on several days. She has taken the occasion of our visit to take a few days vacation so paddling is practical. Our trips were on the York River, which turns out to have lots of intimate waterways and scenic spots. On the second day we go for a paddle around Harris Island, which indeed turns out to be quite beautiful. The weather is cool, but not cold, with bright sun and clear blue skies and just a few cumulous white clouds. The spin around the island takes about an hour and involves paddling around a small bay leading to a narrow water path and then paddling under a low bridge to the other side of the island. It is the kind of paddle that puts fresh air in your lungs and new energy in your body.
In the late afternoons or evenings in York, we would head out to a local restaurant or head over to my cousin’s for dinner. She and her partner are vegetarians, so the fare at her house is all vegetarian. That is fine for me and my wife. We have had plenty of meat and seafood dinners over this summer. A couple of meals of veggies cooked freshly and deliciously by my cousin not only are healthy interludes, they taste delicious. So it all is a win, win.
Our days at the Dockside Guest Quarters start in a very similar way to the way they started in Montauk. The Dockside offers free breakfasts, so in the morning, I walk about 75 feet the Captain’s house and pick up a tray for breakfast. It includes a hot pot of coffee for 2, warmed buns, honey, jellies and jams and sometimes eggs or pancakes or french toast. And like our mornings in Montauk, we would sit on the porch, munch on the breakfast goodies and check out the waterviews. The view of the York River and ocean beyond was a little different than the sandy beaches of Montauk and the ocean beyond, but the feel of breakfast in York is much the same.
On another day, my cousin and drive inland to Scotland Bridge Road which conveniently has a bridge going over the York River. Just before the bridge is a place to pull over and park with an easy put-in to launch a kayak. It takes only a few minutes to inflate and setup up one my inflatable kayaks. We then launch and head up river with the tide, which is about a half hour from full high tide. That fact provides us with some current to paddle up river, which we do for about 45 minutes.
Unlike our earlier paddle around Harris Island the scenery up river is quite different and so is the weather. As we proceed upriver, the waterway becomes more intimate and marsh-like. The weather on this day is also a study in contrasts…it now being hot and almost sweaty to paddle. The sun burns down on us with an intensity I had not considered possible for early October in Maine. On this section of the river, it meanders through reeds and marsh areas, looking more and more like a salt water tidal marsh and no longer like a flowing river.
After paddling for about 45 minutes, I sensed from afar that my wife becoming a little bored by the fact that we were still paddling and so I tell my cousin it is time to reverse course. Theoretically, the tide should be in our favor and should be assisting us in our downriver paddling. Such is not the case, the York River is seemingly unaware that is should retreating back to the sea. It stubbornly wants to take us back up river. That required a little extra paddling on our part, but we did make progress and the scenery was all good. Eventually, we did make it back under the Scotland Road Bridge. And true to form, as soon as I opened the air valves of our kayak at the takeout, I could see that the river had reversed course and the current was now running briskly back to the sea. If only we had come back a little later on that paddle back we would have had a true cake walk.
The vacation in York was fine and uneventful. We spent a lot of time sitting on our porch sunning ourselves and admiring the York River and Atlantic Ocean beyond. It was busy a harbor and boats came and went from just before dawn until just after sunset. In the late afternoons we would walk to the captain’s house and sit on one the benches overlooking the harbor. It was a pretty site as you can see from the picture below.
And again, as every vacation, our trip to York, Maine came to an end and we got back on the great Northeast corridor and drove down to Bridgeport where we were lucky enough to catch an early a ferry and get home before the sun set. It was all good.
Back at home for next few weeks, much was the same. I was busy chasing containers, trying to figure out new prices for next year. On that front the news was pretty grim. Not only had all of our suppliers increased prices, but the costs for 40’ containers had taken an astronomical increase. In May of this year the cost of a container was $7,500. By August it was $20,000, by September it was $25,000. Since we can only get 200 to 500 inflatable boats in a container, this meant a huge increase in shipping costs for each boat. So, it became our sad duty to calculate how much we would have to charge extra for each boat. That is a kind of art…you have to choose between what you think the market may accept and what you think you need. I never liked the process of raising prices, but I have lot of practice. All I can say is that I think a lot price increases will only start working there way into the system next year. God help us all.
In the meantime, stock markets have taken this period as a chance to go on to new all time records. Yes, the mavens and the economists and the pundits and the scalawags and the experts are all agreed. The markets can only go up. By end of this year, they predict markets will go up more. By the end of next year, markets are sure to go up way more. Happy Days are Here Again.
Thanksgiving has come and I still have not called this blog story a wrap. Many things have happened since we took our 2 vacations and I came back to work. Fall has come and winter is on the way. Most of the leaves on our trees have already fallen on our lawn. The temperatures have dropped day to day and winter winds have increased. I have switched over to rowing from paddling because that is a warmer form of exercise and two oars are more effective than one paddle in the brisk Northwest winds that are common in my little at this time of year.
This year has not been easy. My wife and son have been dealing with different health issues. The general atmosphere of the Pandemic rising and falling, rising and falling again, has not helped, the pressure and stresses of life going on, the early results of a change in government, the existence of old problems and new problems. And in spite all of the above, the strange fact that our two businesses are having their best year ever. So times is strange.
There has been much to be fearful of, much to be stressed out about and yet life has gone on reasonably well, with a strange sense worry interlaced with the surprise that there are some real world anchors that make you think not all is crazy, not all is ungrounded.
We end up having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with about 12 family and friends coming over. It has been a hard time for some, but all of us have made it through. We feast on a 22 lb. turkey that arrived by UPS two days before Thanksgiving. The stuffing, the sweet potatoes with roasted marshmallows, the turnips, the salad, the heapings of gravy, the mashed potatoes and more stuffing are all great and everyone agrees…it has been a hard year, but we have made it through and we are thankful.
The next day, Black Friday, so named because it is the day when retail stores supposedly become profitable for the year, is somewhat concerning. A new mutation of the Coronavirus has just been discovered in South Africa. It is thought to be more contagious than even the dread Delta virus. The new virus is named Omicron and it is thought to be a ”virus of concern”. Some speculate that it may evade vaccines and re-infect people who previously had Covid.
Stock markets around the world all take a sharp dive. They are still close near all-time highs, but suddenly there is the strange and unknown fear that markets may be subject to going down. Who knew?
In a slight paraphrase of a once popular song, ”We Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”