Did you stop eating meat when you stopped taking the creatine? If not then you didnt stop taking it. Creatine is in various meat sources particularly beef products.
No. You can start again.
Yes you should ALWAYS stay hydrated.
NO, you dont and didnt ever need to load the creatine unless you like pissing your change away. Just take a tsp 5 g a day and this can still be more than enough, you will still expell the excess.
If you really want some readingf do an Author Search on David Barr and look at his creatine articles, I hear he has another one coming out soon as well.
Hope that helps,