My proudest achievement as a little girl was my involvement with the Titanic Historical Society (THS), an organization dedicated to preserving the ship's history for future generations. I became completely captivated by the Titanic at age 8 and my maternal grandparents, Dede and Pop Pop nurtured that curiosity by taking me under their wing for special heritage tours and conferences around the world.
Ready for tea time in my grandmother's Heart of the Ocean necklace, inspired by the 1997 film.
I literally think I'm Celine Dion in this photo.
My parents were supportive of this deep, but unusual interest in Titanic history but knew the value of fostering a strong bond with my grandparents, exploring world history and having unique cultural experiences.
Not long after my first trip on the Queen Elizabeth II, I had yet another. This time, the Titanic Historical Society was headed to Maine, Halifax and Quebec to learn about Canada's involvement in the Titanic disaster.
What a strange, but sensational passion for an 11 year old girl like me.
This Throwback Travel (TBT) series will launch every Thursday and include a real journal entry about a destination visited during my childhood. My journal entries have been copied below exactly as I wrote them. The entries remain unedited, so please excuse any spelling errors, horrifyingly bratty comments, inconsistent capitalization and overused exclamation marks. The only thing I've added is brackets to clarify a reference to a family member or place.
September 25, 1999
Hi, my name is Ashley Elizabeth Nolan and I will be writing to you over the next week or two [as we travel to Canada]. We went to Uncle Barry and Aunt Isabel's [my grandparents' closest friends from the THS group] house at 10:00. A couple hours later we drove to New York City in one of Uncle Barry's limo's.
When we were on the Queen Elizabeth II, passing New York City, Mr. Michael Rudd [the tour director and Paul Rudd's late father] showed us many interesting sites relating to Titanic such as the pier where Titanic should have docked, the building where all of Titanic's crew members stayed after the tragic sinking, and the pier where Carpathia dropped all of Titanic's surviving passengers.
Here is an interesting story; When the Carpathia was bringing survivors of the Titanic back to New York, it also was carrying the lifeboats. The captain dropped the lifeboats off at the White Star Line office. He then took the survivors to Pier #54. Where ten to eighteen thousand people were waiting for their arrival. We are eating in the Mauretania restaurant. It was named after the great ship, Mauretania.
We are eating with David Kelly, Chantal Keogh [see photo caption below], Uncle Barry Aunt Isabel, Dede, Pop Pop, Mom and I. Tonight we are going to an introductory show in the Grand Lounge. Well, that's all for now!
- Ashley Elizabeth Nolan
Less than 24 hours after I wrote this post, my THS friend Chantal (referenced above)
sent me this photo via Facebook Messenger from this very trip! Chantal still lives in Ireland and is married with three lovely sons.
September 26, 1999
Today, we were out at sea. It was very smooth. Captain Warwick lead the interdenominational church service. He winked at me during one of the hymns. It was a little bit eerie when we sang "Eternal Father to Save the Sea" because they sang this hymn on Titanic.
Later on in the evening, I went to the Captain's Cocktail Party. The captain recognized me and told me he saw me singing in church. At dinner, we had a surprise 60th Birthday Party for De De! She loved it! I can't wait to go to Bar Harbor, Maine! It will be so much fun! De De and I are going to go to the Midnight buffet!
- Ashley Elizabeth Nolan
September 27, 1999
Today we are going to Bar Harbor, Maine. It is a very quiet and historic town. Bar Harbor is an island called Mount Desert Island. Each tourist on average, spends $65.00 each! This helps Bar Harbor's economy. It also has the third best golf course in Maine. It is right below Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country and is located on a 1,500 foot mountain called the Cadillac. The Cadillac Mountains are the largest mountains on the Eastern Coast. It is the first place to see the sunrise.
Another interesting thing to talk about are the blueberries. I love blueberries! Maine produced 62 million pounds of blueberries a year! Maine became a state in 1820. It was once part of Massachusetts. It's state tree is the white pine and the state flower is the pinecone. I bought Maine blueberry socks, "Flitter" the Beanie Baby, two pretty necklaces for Jillian [my childhood best friend] and I and a "shark" bracelet.
Later in the day, I had lunch with Uncle Barry and Aunt Isabel, Michael Rudd and Gloria Rudd [Michael's wife]. English tea is very common in Great Britain. It is served with a scone or a small cake. The stewards onboard served us tea with white gloves. Dinner onboard is very sophisticated. There are 5 course meals! The food ranges from Beef Wellington to Maine lobster.
Later this evening, we went to a Comedian Show in the Grand Lounge. In the middle of the show, he asked if there were any children/youths out in the audience. I was the only one and shyly raised my hand. I went up on stage and talked about the Titanic Historical Society. Then, he told me to face front, smile and don't look back! I opened my eyes again to see Kermit the Frog sitting on the my shoulder singing, "The Rainbow Connection." I, of course, sang along with Kermit!
After the show, he treated me to a cake!
- Ashley Elizabeth Nolan
Adventure Unabashedly Recommends
Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Sand Beach Entrance Station
GPS: Latitude 44.338797
Summit Road Entrance
GPS: Latitude 44.368891