After months of planning and preparation, we boarded a plane in Southern California for New York City. Nereo, Daniela and Martina Zane had stayed with us in Orange County for a week which included all the typical sightseeing items along with a surfing lesson compliments of two of my Newport Beach gondoliers – Cole and Will. The Zanes joined my wife and me and our two daughters and experienced another very American experience: TSA screenings.
I can’t sleep on planes. It stinks but it is what it is. Having slept about 5 hours per night for the three previous nights, I was in rough shape, nevertheless, I stepped off the plane with a new level of energy. Being in New York served as a concrete reminder that “this crazy thing” we’d been preparing to do was becoming a reality. We rented a minivan and drove from JFK to Albany, arriving in time to bed down around 1am.
This morning our gondola was delivered ahead of schedule and unloaded expertly by the guys from Dawson’s Body Shop using a flatbed truck and a hoist. Mike Novack’s chase boat was delivered and launched by gondolier Pierre. I had the pleasure of meeting Vincent Tummino (FDNY and International Columbia Association) and Bepi Suste and Enzo Lizska for the first time. It was great to see Vittorio Orio too. The last time I saw Vittorio was September of 2006 when I was in Venice, at that point we were only talking about doing a row together. Sponsor decals were a great “first task” for all of us, as was putting the gondola “together” with all of her various decorative and/or functional pieces.
A huge rowing regatta was taking place where we had planned to launch the gondola. We met lots of folks who were interested in learning about the gondola and our expedition.
We also had the chance to meet Joe Deverell, a gondola owner from Cross Lake near Syracuse – he had rowed around 250 miles to Albany and was not only fun to talk with, he had some good advice based on his own recent row.
We all had dinner together and held a meeting to go over the plan, joined by gondoliers John Kerschbaum and Chris Harrison who had just arrived in Albany. My Italian is improving but I wanted to be certain that all the details were covered clearly and that questions were understood and answered accurately. Martina Zane – our team translator, did an exceptional job of articulating everything that needed to be said in either language. Without her, the day would have ended on a confusing note.
Our shirts arrived by FedEx and they look great – a perfect end to a long day.