Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whatever Possessed You?

Who could resist the cuteness?
When we meet people along the way, they generally ask a set of predictable questions. "How much electricity do those solar panels make?" "How fast can you go?" And "Whatever possessed you to make this trip?"

It all started quite innocently. Here's the story:

Bill (he wasn't the Cap yet) wanted to give his parents a little treat--a fun vacation. Mom and Dad lived not too far from the Erie Canal. And they liked to bird watch. So in the summer of 2009, Bill said: "What if we rent a houseboat and take Mom and Dad for a cruise on the Erie Canal? They could go birding right from the boat!"

Berge said: "That would be OK. But I don't want to rent a houseboat. I want to rent a boat that's CUTE!"

Bill turned to his computer and started tapping. Twenty minutes later, he spun the monitor around. "Is THAT cute enough?"

On screen: An old-fashioned barge with curvy lines and a scalloped canvas canopy, like a circus wagon. She was gaily painted in shiny maroon, green, and gold. Click, click. Inside, she was fitted out with knotty pine panelling, like an Adirondack cottage. She had a small but complete little kitchen. Cozy-looking bunks. Even her name was sweet: the Honeyoe ("Honey" for short.)
Yup, that's cute enough!  We signed up for the four-day tour.

And had a fantastic time. And the boat was for sale. Bill was like a guy who's met the girl of his dreams. He'd fallen fast, he'd fallen hard. He HAD to posess her.

Ignoring many, many skeptical remarks from the women of the family, he sealed the deal. Now we had a boat. What were we going to do with her?

The original concept was that "buying this boat is like buying a little rustic cottage on a lake." It would be a weekend get-away, with one difference: If we got tired of the view, we could change it by moving the boat.

But then a Penn State colleague said to Bill, "Aren't you overdue for a sabbatical? Why don't you take your sabbatical on your boat?"

Bing Bing Bing!  Flashing lightbulb illuminates. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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