Sunday, August 26, 2012

Baden Baden Roman Irish Bath and Ruins

We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.
When we first started planning the trip here I gave Karen my tentative agenda for the business portion and one of my stops is in Karlsruhe, Germany. At that point we planned to be there at the end of this week and having heard it was in the Black Forest I told Karen we would spend the weekend in that area. She immediately began her research and after seeing a Rick Steves' video planned some time in Baden Baden. The video actually shows the bathing experience very well and you can see it at
The timing changed a little but once our hearts were set on the idea of visiting the Roman-Irish Bath we found a way to make it fit in the pre-work days.

We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.
That really was ok since we get up so early except for the fact that the Germans don't serve breakfast before 8 and we were starving.

That made us realize we needed to pick up a few things and we wondered around a little until we found the German version of Wal-Mart and right beside it was a McDonalds that we thought some of our friends would love since it also had a casino.   

After we finished breakfast we finally made it to Friedrichsbad where we toured the ruins of the original Roman bath and then spent about 4 hours soaking, steaming and living the good life.

I found the ruins to be a fascinating lesson in the ingenuity of the ancient Romans. The Bath house was positioned to take advantage of one of the many mineral water springs in the area and then through engineering and creativity the water was heated and channeled through the walls and floors to create a steam chambers leading to the actual bath.
This Photo shows how the floor was elevated using thousands of stone blocks to create the support system needed and to create the channels where the heated water would flow. I wish I had pictures of the actual heating chamber but unfortunately those were destroyed. Basically though men (probably slaves) kept the fires burning 24-7 and the water flowed through channels on all sides of the fire box. To stand and admire this 2000 year old example of engineering is simply amazing.

This next photo shows the channels in the walls. The water also flowed through these creating chambers where the soldiers were completely surrounded by warmth that must have been wonderful and therapeutic especially in the long German winters.

I could have spent many hours exploring if they had only let me go off on my own but wisely they only allow visitors to view from well placed walkways. Below is one more of the floors.

After the very busy fun-filled days in Amsterdam and the natural levels of stress produced by traveling Baden Baden was the perfect place to catch our breath and rejuvenate. There is more but I will leave that for another day or maybe for Karen to post.  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mount Desert Isle Maine

We really had no specific destination for a honeymoon in mind except we wanted to go to Norwich,Vermont to the King Arther Flour Bakers Store. Everything in New England is so close and the whole Maine Lobster idea really appealed to Karen so I started surfing Maine on the net. We decided we should go to Bar Harbor (pronounced Baahhh Haabbbaaa) and Acadia National Park simply because it looked so beautiful.

I had a room reserved in Bar Harbor but while searching for things to do I  stumbled across the Moorings Inn in Southwest Harbor and found myself changing our plans once again. It wasn't in Bar Harbor  but it was only a few miles away and the website promised to "give you the feeling of being transported to a simpler time and place" It sounded so wonderful and romantic and I was convinced that  this was the perfect place for us.
The Moorings was right on Somes Sound and words and photos can't do it justice. From our deck we could see Sunrise and Sunset on the water each night. The people were very friendly and staying on “The Quiet Side” as they refer to it was perfect. When we get the opportunity to return to Maine we will stay there again.

Sunset over Somes Sound

What a veiw ( We moved the Flowers)

I loved watching the Lobster Boats go out in the morning
All those Specks in the water are lobster traps - hundreds of them everywhere!

We did drive into Bar Harbor of course, it was also beautiful but mostly a million little shops, and shopping is not our thing. The entire area is beautiful and loaded with things to do. We went out on the LuLu Lobster boat  the first morning. This was a real lobster boat and Captain John was fantastic. He taught us about lobsters and explained a great deal about the industry, Karen describes it as the best biology class ever. While on the boat we got to actually watch him pull a trap and also to see Seals and Bald Eagles around Egg Rock Light.

That same evening we sailed on the Margaret Todd at sunset. This is an incredible 4-masted Schooner that sails on Frenchman’s Bay. The Captain always brings his Newfies on the trip so this was an added bonus for us dog folks.

We got to spend a little time at Acadia National Park and I think it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
The Beach at Acadia - I love this rocky shoreline!
On top of the world - Cadillac Mountain
Seawall Park


Maine is simply gorgeous and Karen did get that Loster she wanted - Lobster Pie, Lobster Rolls, Loster Benedict, Lobster Tail and Claws , More Lobster Rolls, Lobster and Corn Chowder  and the big 3 pounder!
Lobster rolls are Karen's favorite snack

Of Course she ate the whole thing!
and she was always ready for more!

My only regret is that we didn’t have more time but we were off for Vermont. that will be the next post
but Karen has also made a few posts on her BLOG so hop on over to  to see what she has to say.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's All About the Spin

I promised I'd try to leave politics out of this BLOG but I had something to say so I posted to my other BLOG today.
If you care to know go to

Shairng our day with Valerie today  - Off to get Mani-Pedi's, Stop at the Beauty Supply Store and do all the things we do. Happy Friday everyone!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

After the ceremony, we all went to dinner at The Witches Brew Café
Karen and I had been there on our first night with our friend Becky. The food was great, the staff were very friendly and best of all they had a small private room (Ideal for up to 16) that we could reserve just for our party. We didn’t think to take photos but this is where Karen had her first ever Lobster Pie.

After dinner, we all went back the Peabody House for the traditional cake. Not only was our room beautiful but the house had a great parlor and front porch that were perfect for our small celebration.

The cake was marble with a mocha filling and came from Niko’s Cakes in Salem. I had read reviews on the net and they were all positive so we had high expectations and were not a bit disappointed. Niko is a real old-fashioned artist and his flowers were some of the most beautiful I had ever seen. We found out the day of that Lisa and Finn really don’t like chocolate so we added a few cupcakes.

Not only was it a beautiful cake it was also delicious!  

We visited a bit with the family and my friend Becky. We had already decided to visit Matt’s family in the fall and Becky told us she had a Sweet Adeline’s competition in Houston in 2011 so we knew it wouldn’t be so long until the next visit. That along with the knowledge that we were now off to Maine and Vermont for our honeymoon made saying our good-byes much easier. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Puppy Personals

I know you all were expecting more wedding stuff but for today I am going to divert and talk about something else. A colleague from Dow’s home location in Michigan is here for business. We actually met when I was there for a meeting in the spring and became friends on Facebook. When I saw the post that she’d be in Houston I followed up with dinner plans and when I saw the post about how she is missing her dog I offered to let her borrow one of ours. In case you didn’t know we have 5 – I know it is insane but it is what it is. None of our five though look anything like hers which I am sure is at least part Golden so I thought I should help her choose which one to borrow or at very least have fun with the ideas floating in my head so I have written a brief personal for each puppy.

Bentley – handsome, middle aged male with classic Airedale looks, likes long walks and evenings stretched out on the couch or the bed enjoying a little TV. Not a big fan of horror or loud action movies. James Coney Island is a dining fav and any date would most likely include this fine dining establishment. I love to talk and have remarkable communication skills that will ensure you always are aware of my needs and desires.  I also have a great sense of humor and promise to amuse and entertain you.

Roux – if you are looking for an active younger companion and you like chicks with beards I am perfect for you. I am not one for sitting still often and I will bring fun and excitement into your life. Favorite pastimes include vigorous strolls around the park and other outdoor activities. I tend to dive right in both to life and to my water bowl so life may be a little wet at times but is never boring. My zest for life is matched only by the same quest for love and you will be treated to constant shows of my affection.

Bridgett – You are only as old as you feel and you would never guess that I am 17. I love fast cars and long rides. Given the opportunity, I will run the neighborhood with amazing speed and youth. My Basset hound heritage makes me an excellent vocalist and gives me the amazing ability to stretch to counter height and provide delightful dining choices.

Walter – if you are looking for someone to protect and defend you I am the perfect choice. I will gladly throw all 5 pounds of myself into the mix to protect your honor and all I ask in return in your constant devotion. I am often described as adorable and hilarious and the fact that half my hair grew in backwards seems to make people love me even more. I also love horror movies (if you‘ll let me cuddle up close) and have at times been mistaken for the star of one.


Jax –  My classic Chihuahua good looks could sell a lot of taco’s. I am an independent boy and while I enjoy the occasional cuddling, I will give you plenty of space. I am told that my quiet nature is unusual for my breed but I prefer to only speak on matters of great importance like empty food bowls or the lack of cookies.  I’ve always had a thing for the bigger girls so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable about eating that extra bowl of ice cream as long as you are willing to share with me.

 Needless to say we have a variety and any dog lover can certainly find plenty of love and laughter at our house.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It was finally here

Planning an outdoor wedding is not without a little stress because one never knows what the weather will do. I did think about this but ultimately decided it didn’t matter. We had acknowledged our love for each other in the middle of a hurricane and spent the first anniversary of that day celebrating by running through New Orleans in the midst of the pouring rain so I had to think that even if some rare perfect New England storm blew in it would all work out.
On the day of our wedding, we awoke to a gorgeous day with perfect sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s. We had decided we were too old and rational to follow all of those silly traditions and not see each other – and we just had too many last minute things to take care of to mess with all that. We had taken our clothes to the cleaners on Friday so they could be freshened after the ride in the suitcases so that was our first stop of the day. We had gotten manicures before leaving Houston but still my nails were a mess so next stop was a nail salon. The family was spending the day at Winter Island so we went by there for a short visit. They were there at my request because I knew the boys would want to explore and insisted they get it out of there system before the wedding. Our time with them was so limited and I felt a little bad for not staying longer but they all understood we had things to do. We still had a few hours but we had to pick up the cake and get ourselves ready for the ceremony.
A couple of people asked me if I was nervous. I admitted I was a little about the silly things like the weather or that I would fall down the path and end up with my white outfit covered in dirt but I was not one bit nervous about the ceremony itself. I knew this was the most important thing I would ever do in my life and I didn’t experience one second of doubt. 

We had planned to meet my family and the J.P. at the park and it was finally time to head out. We took a couple of bottles of wine and some classy plastic champagne glasses and were on our way.  

Priscilla hadn’t seen where we wanted the ceremony and we had called and left her a message to wear sensible shoes but until she arrived, we weren’t even sure everything was going to work. Fortunately, she was a good sport and proceeded down the “billy-goat” trail with the rest of us.

We chose not to make an entrance but rather to just gather together with the lighthouse behind us and our family forming a circle on the other side. We had designed our own ceremony so to some degree we knew what to expect but Priscilla had also added touches that made it much more personal. We had asked the boys to read from Kahlil Gibran.

I never doubted they could read well enough for this because they are both very smart boys. I knew Seamus could handle the spotlight because his personality is often compared to mine (I am not saying that is a good thing : ) Finn is a little quieter and I hoped it would not make him uncomfortable. I really shouldn’t have worried – When Finn began to read it was perfect and his sweet young voice made Gibran’s words even more beautiful. That is when the tears started flowing and by the time Mom, Matt and Lisa had read the final verse we had to get out our Kleenex.  

When it came time to exchange our rings Priscilla asked the family to each say something to us. This was something she had told us she would do and we chose not to tell them this in advance. This was a wonderful addition to our plan and when my brother finished I was in tears again. Seamus added his own love and support and Finn expressed my feeling exactly when he said “ Yay”.

If you read the BLOG on the rings, you already know we were now exchanging much more than pieces of metal and we had written our own vows for this. 

Priscilla then wrapped it up and finished by pronouncing us legally married.  We were actually married! What a wonderful feeling – Married - Honestly Legally Married to the woman of my dreams. I can’t even find words to describe the happiness I felt but looking back on the photos I think it is written all over my face. 

Karen is the most beautiful, incredible woman I have ever known and she was now my wife. At this point, I pinched myself two or three times to make sure it was all real and we popped open the champagne and toasted on the beach.

 Having my family there with us made it even more wonderful and I don’t think I’ll ever find the words to tell them how important that had been for me.

There is more to come but for now if you want to see more pictures go to Picture Trail.