Happy Labor Day. Three plus years ago I read that happiness comes from buying memories and experiences rather than things, and for me I have just started an experience that will provide me with a lifetime of memories. You may have gathered that I have an affinity for 19th century resorts, hotels and inns, and the more original the better. Other than some minimal electrical wiring having been added I could not be more original than in the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island, ten miles out from Portsmouth, New Hampshire (well, the ladies are not wearing hoop skirts). Star Island has been on my list to experience for several years, but in February I read of a Road Scholar Digital Photography course on the island this week, and here I am killing the proverbial “two birds with one stone.” And as I start writing I hear the surf, gulls, fog horn warning of the rocks, and a group singing in a distant parlour. Tranquil, enjoyable, and I am looking forward to learning, and experiencing as much as possible.
The last few weeks I poured over 4 books I had accumulated in my library on the history of the island getting myself ready, In addition I have been immersed in an on-line course on the WordPress software which I use for this website. I have learned many new things and become unafraid to try the things I have learned. I have a strong feeling that I will be gaining more confidence in the operation of my digital cameras this week with the hope that my images can provide even more of an impact on Shunpiking with Ray. And, who knows where else that will all lead, but let’s get back to this journey (remember the journey can be more important than the destination).
Check-in time on the dock in Portsmouth was between 1 PM and 3 PM on the 3rdfor
a 4:25 sailing. I left a tad after nine, even though I only had a two and a quarter hour drive, to cut over to Concord to pick up US 4 to Portsmouth. Known as “antique alley,” sadly US 4 has changed a great deal since Cathy and I used to explore it, and after browsing a number of shops I never had to take my check book out. The replica of an old steam ship, Thomas Laighton, sailed on time, and it was a treat to view so many sites I was familiar with, but from the water side, including: downtown Portsmouth, Strawbery Banke, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the historic Coast Guard station, and I could even see the roof of the historic Wentworth Hotel that we enjoyed shortly after its restoration. Leaving the Piscataqua River the islands, albeit ten miles out, become the solitary mesmerizing point on the horizon, and I stood on the top deck the entire voyage taking it all in.
Arriving on the island you follow the path up to the hotel, check-in, and then everyone attends a safety lecture outlining fire precautions, water conservation (showers only allowed for a few hours Tuesdays, Thursday, and Saturdays), and recycling. This is island life. The expansive porches and public spaces are incredible – well this is my taste at least – and I will share images as the week progresses. That short lecture was at 6 followed by
dinner at 6:30 in the dining hall – again a Victorian treat and done just as is in the 1880s family style for the most part. Later we adjourned to one of the small buildings for a Road Scholar meet and greet. There are about 12 of us in the digital photography course, and about 22 or so in a watercolor class. I talked with the instructor for awhile, after most of the others left and then I bid good night and continued my exploring of the old hotel. As
you can see my room is Spartan, and unchanged since built in the 1870s except for the platform bed. There is a pitcher of water in my room, one bathroom per floor and the larger one in the basement. The sea breeze comes in my window which faces due west to catch the sunset.
This week I may not have many words for you, but share instead images to give you an idea of Victorian hotel life, and life on an island. For the history however, do some reading on-line – Wikipedia at least. Bye for now, RAY