On Tuesday we arrived at the Groton Inn and Suites to get with the group. The first night was spent getting reacquainted and oriented to the schedule for the week. I was extremely nervous about meeting Stephen Harding and his lovely wife Mari later in the week and that contributed to an extreme adrenaline rush. Kind of wore me out fast!
Wednesday was a tour of the Naval submarine base at New London, facilitated by my awesome godson Lt. Andrew Schaffer, a JAG serving as Victim's Counsel at the base. A very tasty catered lunch was served in the torpedo room, then after we held the memorial service next to the USS Nautilus 571 in memory of the sailors we've lost.
Thursday was our free day and spent in Essex, CT, a beautiful historic little town on the Connecticut River. The Griswold Inn is there, has been since 1776. We had lunch with our friends there and did much shopping. Later the Connecticut River Museum held our attention for a while. So picturesque there, we could have sat for hours just watching the birds and the boats. But it was near time to meet Stephen! We returned to the inn, and around 5:00 he and Mari pulled up. It was instant comfort, as he's the most approachable and amiable guy. Mari is completely charming, and they were instantly absorbed into the people in the offshoot of the hospitality room. He graciously fielded some questions about his work and his books, and after a time we broke for dinner. There was a wonderful Indian restaurant on the corner near the hotel, and we ended up spending two hours there eating and talking. Hubby and I had more fun, just an amazing time with enjoyable company.
Friday was Block Island, and we drove to Point Judith, Rhode Island to catch the ferry. That's another place we intend to return, only I'd like about 3 days to really hit the beaches and get some time on the water. Loved Block Island! Steve and Mari were with us and it was a good opportunity for them to chat with the folks a bit more. On the island they had a catered lunch at Ballard's there on the beach. Again, absolutely perfect weather, a scenic view and great food made for a memorable day. I might have dropped a few bucks at the shops along the main street there as well. That evening back at the hotel, we met with Steve and Mari once more for a bit more sharing of information.
Saturday was the yearly meeting, raffle and then later the banquet. Carol Loggia, niece of Fred Purdy of the DD 467 joined us for the banquet, and it was an opportunity for her to meet Don Fawcett, a survivor who had never been to a reunion before this one. She also met Steve and Mari and spent some time chatting and sharing letters her uncle Fred sent home while aboard the ship. We ate, then chatted more before saying our good-byes until next year. It was harder than expected to leave this year, all my expectations were met and I wanted to do it all over again. But, we move forward as Steve completes the book in the next few months - and there will be so much to look forward to!