Saturday, July 4, 2009

16 states... Yes, I said 16.

Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio

Phew! That was 16 states!
Of course, those of you folks from California, Texas, Alaska...
You have to remember those states are tiny in comparison to your home states.

Some states we passed through twice, coming and going. Also, crossing the Mason/Dixon line was not originally part of the plan but ended up being a wonderful surprise! Actually, it was my favorite detour.

We had marginal weather in the New England states... a rain cloud seemed to follow us around but it mostly rained at night. We really did luck out and there was really only one day that the rain tried hard to spoil the fun and that was in Camden, Maine. One night it rained like 4-5 inches... and then it rained while we tried to wander through town but we just ignored it and wandered the town dripping wet dragging around David's big old golf umbrella.

However, the sun peaked out as we drove into Virginia. I swear we passed through a veil of humidity around the Mason/Dixon line and the temperature got up into the high 90's. It's not the heat, it is the humidity folks and we were sweating like fiends almost.... almost wishing for some cloud cover.

We stayed mostly at State parks and were very pleased... there were a few 'private parks'... and a couple KOAs. The camper was just fine with a few electrical glitches which is being fixed at the dealership before we take any more trips.

Now for a small breakdown, skipping around a bit:

First we had to get outada U.P. on the Mighty Mac


Vermont was beautiful, but it runs a second to Virginia. Vermont is very green... in more ways than one. A northern California hippy would DIG IT there! Of course, to be fair that is probably precisely why it is so beautiful. We drove into the state from the northern part of the Grand Isle and stayed on the island before crossing over onto the mainland. We stopped at a farmers
market in a small village.

The market was on their village green and they had a few shops around on the surrounding streets.

The hills roll through farmlands and there were a few bicyclists here and there, very pretty.

New Hampshire

We were in the northern part of New Hampshire and could have probably passed through very quickly but decided to stay. Took awhile to find a state park, a couple we went to were defunct... which we found out after we traveled there... and drove through a once thriving town called Berlin. Berlin seems to have fallen on sad times, many... well most of the shops downtown were closed and for sale. It was once a thriving lumber town, in fact there were two large lumber mills in the area once. The river that ran through town had man made islands in the middle for most of the length of town. Apparently, there used to be a log fence of some kind connected to those island that split the river into two parts. Lumber that was marked with brands for the two mills were separated by that fence and routed to the correct mill.


Northern Maine is a lot like the U.P. of Michigan. Similar forests, very rural, and frankly towns that are struggling to survive. An odd characteristic was that the area was not particularly set up for tourists which would help their economies immensely but they did not seem particularly fond of tourists.

We stopped in one town that was supposed to be particularly picturesque and could not find a restaurant... of any kind. Finally, I asked a local fellow if he could recommend one. At least he was friendly and said if we "cross back over the bridge we would come to a shap cana, and we can tan left, and there was a place to eat there.... but sometimes he is not open. So we might want to go down to the next cana and go a down the road as it might be a betta place to eat."

Good grief!
I met my one of my first yankees and I could barely understand him!

It was kinda exciting really.

Anyway, I jumped back in the truck and we hit our GPS machine and tried to find a restaurant that way. We ended up driving quite a bit down the road before ending up in Belfast. We wandered into (what else?) an Irish pub and had a beer and some pub food as we watched Red Sox reruns on tv.

Then we drove about halfway down the coast we and we finally hit the area that people think of most when they think of Maine. We wandered through Searspoint, and Belfast, and then finally found Camden.

We did not drive out to Bar Harbor as Camden was a very charming town on the water

and we enjoyed it enough to stay two days.

The state park right there near town seemed brand new and was a fabulous camp to stay in. This was where we ran into the most rain.

Ya know, one of the things I liked about the trip is that as we got closer to Boston, and then also near Virginia we started seeing signs that went from "Town Established 1822" to ""Town Established 1692". Holy smokes that is so cool!


Now we are really getting somewhere...
I finally put my toes in the Atlantic ocean!

Also, I am very interested in the American Revolution so this really began to peak my interest. Along with seeing more and more civil war memorials, we were starting to see some VERY old cemeteries and buildings and towns. First stop in
Massachusetts was Newburyport.

This was a GREAT town! Beautiful buildings, layout of town, great shops, restaurants etc.

Then we went to Danvers. Back in the day the Danvers and Salem area were all part of Salem Village. Many of the people and events of the infamous witch trials actually occurred in what is now the Danvers area even though Salem enjoys the fame. In Danvers we went to the Rebecca Nurse homestead and even though it was closed and is actually on private property the owner let us wander through alone.

We checked out the exterior of the home and then the cemetery where Rebecca is buried... as well as John Proctor and his wife, and a few other victims.

John Proctor Mrs. John Proctor

The epitaph on the tombstone of George Jacobs Sr. quotes him as saying,
"Well! Hang me or burn me I will stand in the truth of Christ".

He was hung as a wizard in 1692 after testimony against him
by his own granddaughter.

Went on then to Salem, which I have to admit was also fun, but a tad bit touristy.

This dude on the left is not a witch even though he has a good outfit... he is the pilgrim founder guy. The Salem Witch Museum is like those Ripley Believe it or not cheesy museums you can see on Fisherman's Wharf in San Fran. I could have passed on it... actually we kind of did. We left mid-show to wander town. Much better idea.

These grave sites were very old and right up against the Episcopal church in Salem. The property for this church was donated by a man who had earlier been accused of witchcraft but survived the trials. Additionally, this church was famous for a few other things including being the State Church of the British Royal Governor General Thomas Gage. Gage comes in later as the General to set off the Lexington / Concord incident. More on that later.

We then went to the Minute Man National Park.
Now this was very cool.

The park is the actual running battle ground between Lexington and Concord. British General Thomas Gage (Remember him from above?) decided against arresting Sam Adams and John Hancock as they were becoming quite pesty. Instead Gage thought he would order some troops to Concord where he heard the colonial/patriots/rebels had been stashing weapons.

Hmmm... confiscating guns from soon to be official Americans
was about as good an idea then as it is today.

News got to rebel leaders (General Gage's wife Margaret Kemble Gage was American... hint hint) and Paul Revere was sent on his famous ride on one route to Lexington and Concord in one direction and another lesser known man named William Dawes Jr. was sent on another route. Having two messengers with the same destination, taking different routes was one way to make sure the message gets through.

Both messengers made it first to Lexington at approximately the same time. They spread the word about the British coming and then joined to head to Concord... meeting up with a man named Dr. Samuel Prescott who was on his way home to Concord late that evening after he had been out courting with his fiance'. Revere and Dawes enlisted his aid as well, which turned out to be a good thing.

Meanwhile, behind them a small contingent of minute men/local militia stood armed on Lexington's green just to show their disapproval and discontent. They were extremely out numbered but had just planned to make a point... kind of like a protest... not to fight. However, a mysterious shot rang out (doesn't it always?) and the much larger British army quickly ended that protest after killing 8 of the militia men. I could go on and on but you probably know the rest of the story. News of the bloodshed spread quicker than a computer virus, and more militia men from neighboring towns rushed to the area.

Just outside of Lexington, Revere was captured before making it to Concord. Dawes was turned back to Lexington, but the third man... Dr. Prescott made it home to let Concord know the British army was on its way.

The spot where British scouts captured Revere and ended his and Dawes part in the famous "midnight ride":

The Brits also later made it Concord but then the battle was on at the North Bridge.

In the end, the Brits took the weapon stash but the minute men had killed British soldiers and then chased the Brits nearly 20 hours in a running battle back to Boston, firing from behind homes, trees, rocks, etc. The closer they got to Boston more and more militia kept appearing until they eventually got close enough to the harbor where British ships and canons were used to keep kept the rebels at bay.

Sorry about that little tidbit of history info. Just know that the park is great, and one you should definitely visit if you go to Boston. You can walk or ride your bike on almost the entire route, there are markers, and graves, and foundations, and buildings left along the route as well as a great couple of visitor centers. One near the North Bridge and Old Manse... and the other closer to Revere's capture site.

Then on to Boston.... good grief... now that is a city and an old one at that! Thank goodness for our GPS because that was wild trying to take that camper through the city! We squeezed it into old town by the Old North Church, Paul Revere's house,

and the Old State House. FYI- The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony on the front of the Old State House.

How cool is that!?

As a funny side note we mixed up a different nearby old building with the state house and were taking lots of pictures of it thinking that was the site... but then we went around a corner and duh... there it was and there was no comparison. Our mistake was quite obvious. We scooted out of Boston... which is a great city but one to visit as a destination. Go there, stay there, see the sites, and take cabs.

We then headed out to Cape Cod and towards Provincetown which lies at the very tip. We stopped in Plymouth to have lunch... yes.... the pilgrims spot... but as Provincetown was actually the FIRST landing point of the pilgrims we decided to head down the road to "the Cape". It was here I started noting along with local scenes on the postcards for sale... there were also many with President John F. Kennedy and family. Kinda interesting.

There is a private campground right in Provincetown which was close enough to the main street we could walk. We stayed two days. Provincetown is a cross between Mendocino, CA or Coupeville, WA on steroids, and the Castro district of San Francisco.

Lots of artists, and happy happy flamboyant people. The streets teemed with rainbow flags on cars, on B&Bs and galleries everywhere. Athletic looking gals walking their dogs, and model-type men in tank tops and shorts were out strolling through town. Great fun!

We were looking for a good sushi restaurant and asked a local well groomed fellow. While he was telling us the reviews of a sushi place called Saki another fellow rode by on a bike and slapped him on the ass. He paused a second, rolled his eyes, shook his head, said... "freaky people" and then continued with his recommendation.

Let me tell you he was RIGHT on the money. Sake was a fabulous and rather chic sushi place and we enjoyed it for my birthday dinner. The place was decorated beautifully, and hip... and welcoming to all tourists and locals whether dressed for a night out, or in more casual camping duds. All the waiters were well groomed model types in black, and the hostess was a wonderfully sleek blond woman in what appeared to be a simple below the knee black dress...
until she turned around to lead us to our table and then you could not help but note just how sheer her dress was. The bows on her thong were pink and girlfriend wore it very well. David sneaked info to the waiter/hostess that it was my birthday and at the end of the meal the hostess glided over with a glass of pink champagne and the waiter brought a chocolate moose brownie thing with freshly made orange real whip cream and a candle. Very... very nice surprise.

We rode a pedi-cab home which drove us past a fellow singing in front of the very old town hall. He had very long blonde hair and a glamorous outfit and played his guitar while singing show tunes. The sign by his collection box said "72 years old and living my dream".

ok... whatever. That's cool... he is happy.

It was then we decided to go to Virginia. I have always wanted to see Jefferson's home Monticello and we planned to do it another time but ... well... apparently no time like the present so we took a detour. Monticello is one of the best historical sites I have ever been to. Period.
Yes... it might seem very familiar. Take out a nickel. Look at the back.

Again, this is a site not to miss. The home is exquisite as is the grounds.

Here is a nice garden shed. The windows in all four walls are big floor to ceiling double hung windows. You can open the bottom or top to create some great breezes.

They have a wonderful learning / museum center down the hill from the home. Simply a dream visit for me... and the sun was out... as was the humidity. We had stayed in a KOA nearby and then came first thing in the morning. (I highly recommend getting there when it opens if possible) I was in the second tour and the morning mountain mist was still hovering over the vegetable garden.

As we had the dogs, and as he knew how much is meant to me David decided to sit with the dogs in a shaded area of the parking lot and despite my trying to insist we take turns with the tours he instead waited for me. He said he has been fortunate enough to see many wonderful museums in his life and he knew how much it meant to me... he said he would wait for me to describe it to him. He might have been sorry about that because after my visit I probably talked to him about it for several days!

Below is T.J. himself. Apparently, life sized the tour guide later told us...
they used the measurements from his clothing for the statue.

We drove then through West Virginia, saw coal mining towns, went into Kentucky seeing the beautiful rolling blue grass hills with huge horse farms... with black fences and barns. Different than the usual white fencing , but it caught our eyes and I must admit it was stunning. Rode along the Midland trail...

The Midland trail over which both Union and Confederate troops traveled... and fought skirmishes and battles here and there. This was also a trail along a portion of one of the the Underground Railroad routes where slaves would try to escape the south running north towards freedom.

Somewhere in Kentucky we turned off a road to a gas station. Now, everyone has been very friendly and these folks were too but... I think they were brother/sister/cousin/husband/wife... I dunno... a little close for comfort. They were talking and laughing with each other and I absolutely could not understand what they were saying to each other. They were speaking english, and it was not that their accents were all that thick... they just made no sense. It was like random words strung together. I listened carefully for some banjo music... heard none... but I looked quickly at the man's name tag and ... you will not believe this.... but his name was Ricky Bobby. Ahhh.. ok, that explains a lot.

Anyway, then we traveled back up through Ohio and into Michigan. Our last two nights we stayed at the same park (Old Mill Creek) near Mackinaw City. This was where we spent out first night on the road so we thought it would be fitting to have our last night be there as well.

It was a nice ending. We are back home now and still feeling very tired from our trip... but what a great trip that was.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an amazing trip! Provincetown looks like a lot of fun- Massages by Lenny?! Glad you guys had fun. Are you planning any trips out west? I would love to see you!



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