Onward and upward! We look around outside of Ming’s Market, and decide to walk up the hill a bit more. We already know what’s at the bottom of the hill (the ship) so we decide go see what’s at the top. Daughter #1 asks to push the stroller, so we let her. It’s not terribly easy for her, but it helps burn off some of that kid energy that seems to come from nowhere.

These kids can run and play until they’re barely able to move their legs and arms. They’ll be red in the face and panting like dogs in a hot car. They’ll rest for a few minutes, then get up and do it all over again. I kind of remember being able to do that when I was a kid, but I’m not sure when it changed. Now, just getting ready for work in the morning makes me tired, and by the time I’ve driven to the office, I’m ready for a nap.

If you look closely at the photo of Daughter #1 pushing the stroller, you can see the blue Cruise Critic bag on the back of the stroller. This is the same bag that Daughter #1’s digital camera is stored in, as well as the dried mangoes. This is the bag that’s holding Wifey’s maple syrup candy and my second bag of nuts from the white tent. That’s it… just wanted to help complete that picture in your head, that’s all.

<Flash back 235 years>

You may have noticed that my girls (including Wifey) are all wearing the same type of hat. We got these hats in Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. We go to Williamsburg at least once every year and the girls love it. Both girls dress up in their colonial dresses and hats and play as they learn about history. They’ve really grown to love their Williamsburg hats, so they wear them other places, too. By the way, Wifey does not dress up in a Colonial costume… she just wears the hat to keep the sun off of her face. She wanted me to mention that.

Here are pictures of both daughters in their Colonial Williamsburg dresses and hats. The first one is the 5-year-old in her dress and hat, standing in the Williamsburg post office. The dress is home-made (by me) because Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t sell a dress this small. The second picture is the 8-year-old in her Williamsburg-made dress and hat playing with her wooden hoop and stick in front of the Magazine.

<Flash forward 235 years>

Wifey is very conscious of skin damage caused by sun exposure and it’s so hard to find a decent wide-brimmed sun hat for children.

Her side of the family burns easily and has had a history of sun-related skin issues. My side of the family tans easily and rarely burns. I’m no expert, but I think it might have something to do with that voodoo “genetics” stuff I keep hearing about… if you believe in that stuff. We don’t know which way our daughters’ skin will go, but better safe than sorry, and it’s not like there’s anything good about a tanned 5- or 8-year-old.

Daughter #1 continues to push the stroller up the streets. Wifey and I both see a bright red Corvette parked along the street up ahead. Wifey really likes Corvettes, and I like cars in general. We get up to the car and stop to admire it. I see the church behind the car and try to get a decent photo of both. I’ve always loved the architecture and wide range of styles of churches, especially the old, stone churches.

I thought that it would be mildly interesting to have a picture with two very different types of “old” in it. The car, which is a “classic” by modern car standards, is “space age” compared to the church behind it. This is just one of those little thoughts that occurred to me when I saw them together.

As I’m taking pictures of the car and church, Wifey notices that there are three other guys taking pictures of the same car at the same time. All three of the other guys were crew members from the ship in their designer, fitted, street clothes with their gel-encrusted spiky hair and large sunglasses.

We continue to walk along the sidewalk toward the top of the hill. When we reach the end of the block where the church is, we realize that there’s not much more “hill” to go up, and what we can see is all residential housing. We decide to cross the street and head back down the other side of the street for a change of scenery.

About 100 feet past the church (on the same side of the street heading downhill) is a bookstore named “Loyalist City – Coins and Books”. Wifey has a hard time resisting bookstores, and on this day, I lack a good argument to prevent us from going in. I don’t really care for used book stores, and Wifey could spend hours and hours in one. We compromise and only spend about half an hour to an hour in the bookstore.

Today, the bookstore has a table set up outside with a plastic bin of coins, boards covered in pins, collector spoons, and used books for sale which was what first attracted us to the store. We didn’t’ even know it was a bookstore until we looked up from the table and saw all of the books inside. Wifey and the girls begin to thumb through the coins while I wait patiently and take pictures. I also glance through the pins and coins, but don’t really look at the books. I notice that there are books, and then look all around them. All of the coins in the plastic bin were ten cents each, and Wifey told each girl that they could pick out one and we’d buy it for them.

They take five or more minutes finding their coins. Each girl wanted to make sure that they were getting the absolute best coin as their one-and-only coin. In this case, since all of the coins were foreign and mostly old, “the absolute best coin” was determined by what was on the coin and most likely how shiny it was. Both girls pick their coins, and then Wifey takes them inside to pay for them.

As a mild form of protest, I don’t go inside. I can see that this bookstore is very similar to other bookstores in that there’s not much space inside. Wifey also had to park the stroller outside the door because of how tight the store is, so I’ll just stand outside with the stroller.

I spend a few minutes looking at the pins, spoons, and stuff on the table and then get bored. I look into the store again, and see that there’s a glass case just inside the door on the left. I can see most of the items in the case without actually stepping into the store, so I go shelf by shelf from the top to the bottom looking for something interesting. Somewhere near eye level, I see some military relics that appear to be from WWI or WWII, but I can’t tell from the outside… so I step into the store.

Now they’ve got me. As soon as I set foot in the store, I realize that I’ve lost this little game. The “game” is the one played by any merchant and their unsuspecting victims. One of the more well known games played by merchants is played out on the lot of a car dealership. See? You know the game I’m talking about. The game I just lost is less apparent, and more difficult to put your finger on.

The table outside of the store is obviously meant to draw your attention. The table and its contents don’t stay outside all of the time, of course. But why not? It goes inside at the end of the day, and comes back out, right? It doesn’t stay outside because the store can’t watch it, and anyone walking by may steal items from the table, and theft (in one form or another) is a store/merchant’s single largest enemy. So the store makes a calculated risk assessment, and chooses to put the table outside, risking their goods, hoping that it will attract more honest people than dishonest people. These items also have to be carefully selected. If the table is covered in worthless junk, it won’t attract anyone, but more valuable/interesting items are a higher risk for the store.

The coins, books, and spoons are selected for their appearance/interest to value ratio, then put outside. Wifey and the girls saw the table, took interest, and went inside the bookstore. They lost before they even knew the game was happening. I however, am aware of the game, and choose not to go inside! Or, at least this was the case until I saw the display just inside the door. Again, the glass display case inside the door has also been carefully placed, and that’s what got me. I lost the game, but at least I didn’t lose a lot of money in the process.

Congratulations to you, Mr. Loyalist City bookstore… you have won this round, but perhaps we’ll meet again. And when that day comes, I’m confident that I shall stand outside the whole time, and only my wife will give you our money.

I’ve entered the store. There are tables and poorly constructed shelves all throughout the store. The tables are completely covered with stuff, and there are stacks of boxes under the tables which just barely break the plane of the table, thereby making the walkway a little bit smaller than the table by itself.

The shelves that line all of the walls are too long, made of long, painted, pine boards and are packed with books. The shelves bow in the middle under the weight of the books, and would most likely break and fall if it didn’t have the row of books below it to hold it up… which just compounds the problem. This whole shelf system would collapse if it weren’t for the very bottom shelf having the floor to rest on. It may also collapse if one were to pull all of the books out of a middle shelf. Adding a vertical brace or just a simple board/beam to support the middle of these shelves would greatly reduce the stress in the system – but that would take away space… space where a fifty-cent paperback could go. Instead, the tallest books on any shelf serve as the vertical brace while crushing the spine of said book at the same time.

The back half of this bookstore also sells records and music. There are tables along the back half which have boxes and boxes of records. Around the store, I also see glass cases with curios, random collectibles, and a substantial collection of militaria from Canada and Europe including military service ribbons, medals, knives, photographs, binoculars, and even a World War I gas mask with the filters. There are also many plastic and die-cast models in the store. Some have already been assembled, but most of them are new in boxes for you to buy and build.

The store has the smell of old books and wood. The whole store has the obvious appearance of being cluttered, but organized at the same time. Once I realize that there’s nothing in the glass case by the door that really interests me, I decide to move further into the store. Part of my goal is to hurry Wifey along. When it comes down to whether Wifey can spend more time inside the bookstore or whether I can spend more time outside the bookstore waiting for her… she seems to win every time. Inside of the store, she has stuff to look at and read allowing her to partially forget that I’m outside waiting for her. While I’m outside, most of my mental energy is spent wondering how much longer she’ll be in there… and that really starts to get to you after a short while.

We’re probably in the store for about half an hour or so, maybe longer. Daughter #1 finds a Nancy Drew book that she wants (The Whispering Statue), and Wifey exercises an extreme amount of self control by not buying anything for herself… not a single useless, dust-collecting thing. Wifey pays for the Nancy Drew book and the two coins from outside, and we leave the store.

The coins below are the two coins that the girls picked out. The silver half-Franc belongs to Daughter #1 and the gold ten-cent piece belongs to Daughter #2. Daughter #1 picked this silver coin over another coin with a seahorse on it.

After leaving the bookstore, we stay on the same side of the street and head north down the hill. The bookstore and church are on Germain Street, and we walk toward King Street. When we arrive at the King Street intersection, we stop on the corner and wonder where to go. This is mostly a “whatever we feel like” process. Wifey and I are fond of navigating without any goal, destination, or requirements.

Back when Wifey and I were just dating, we decided one Friday night that we’d just jump in the car and start driving with no destination. We didn’t want any of our subconscious memories or feelings to interfere with the spontaneity of our road trip. We went into the game cabinet at the house and pulled out the spinner from a board game and took it in the car with us. The rules were simple. We would get in the car, spin the spinner, and whichever way it pointed, we would drive that direction. When we reached an intersection or we were forced to make a choice, we would spin to decide the direction.

This road trip took us down some really long roads through nowhere, and we had no idea where we were at several points. We stopped for dinner at a small town billiard hall. I had spaghetti and not-so-hot hot wings for dinner. The billiard hall was also a small restaurant and bar, but more than half of the space was filled with billiard tables, so I think of it as a billiard hall with a bar, as opposed to a bar with billiard tables.

We drove all night, hours and hours, and ended up getting a hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. When we woke up in the morning, we asked the hotel clerk what town we were in. The town was called Westminster. We had both heard of Westminster, but had no idea where it was or how far away it was. Wifey called her mother to check in. It was a long time ago, so this isn’t perfect, but the conversation went something like this…

“Hey Mom, just calling to check in.”
“Where are you guys?”
“We drove all night, and let a spinner tell us which way to go when we got to an intersection, then we got a hotel this morning.”
“So, where are you?”
“Uh, we’re in Westminster.”
[Laughing] “You drove all night to get there? There are teachers at my school that live there and commute every day. You’re about an hour away from home.”

So, anyway, we’re fond of wandering aimlessly on occasion. It’s most enjoyable when you’ve got nowhere to go, and all day long to get there.

We probably stood at the intersection of Germain and King Street for a solid 2 minutes trying to decide where to go. In the end, we decided to turn left and head back toward the water at the bottom of the hill.
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