NE Trip Part 4 – Massachusetts

Yikes! Yikes! Yikes! If you have dialup this could take a very long time. Now you know why I was “schlafing” my feet at posting this next one. I promise the last 2 states won’t be this long or take this long to put up.

I’d first of all like to say that Boston is a great place to be from – about 1087 miles from. No seriously, we enjoyed our tour of Boston but we did not enjoy driving in Boston at all. We relied on GPS quite a bit and there are lots of tunnels in Boston. So, we drive into a tunnel and our GPS freezes up from lack of signal and there are exits going off of the tunnels. Yes, I know there is such a thing as road maps and yes, we did use them some too but Boston notoriously leaves the commuter in the dark, placing the exit signs and other route signs just passed the place where you were supposed to turn, instead of given you ample warning.

That is the phlegmatic version. For non-phlegmatic version, talk to my sister.

We were only at the airport 4 times so by the last time in we had it pretty much figured out. Massachusetts has lots of history. We took a narrated tour of Boston, we spent several days in Plymouth, and were in Concord twice.

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I would recommend the narrated bus tours of Boston as you can enjoy the city and hear the history without having to navigate the busy streets. The gentleman above did a wonderful job driving the bus and narrating as he went.

Some of the highlights of the tour were seeing the Boston Commons, the area where the North Church is,

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the public gardens, “Old Ironsides,” which incidentally is not made of iron but of Georgia Live Oak. The hull at the waterline was about 26″ thick and the artillery could not penetrate it, thus it received the nickname “Old Ironsides”. The Battle of Bunker Hill memorial is there on the left.

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Fenway Park,

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through Harvard University campus.

There was also a harbor tour:

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The airport is right on the edge of the ocean:

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I love the contrasts of the old and new buildings.

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Some of the Boston Harbor area was reclaimed as filled area by the colonists who wanted more land mass. Some of the buildings are built on posts that are in water. They have to closely monitor the water level because if it drops too low, the posts will begin to rot and the building will be in trouble.

A Holocaust Memorial, with 6,000,000 numbers etched in the glass:

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In Boston, there is a law that prevents the exterior of buildings to be changed in any way. At one place there was an old church that had been burned out. Since some of the ruins were there, but could not be changed, a college dorm building was built behind it.

Robert McCloskey, author and illustrator of many children’s books, is from this area. The bronze ducks here are a tribute to him and come from his book Make Way for Ducklings. He has fantastic illustrations in some of his books!!

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Concord and Lexington also have lots of history. The minutemen William Dawes, Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott slipped past the British troops to warn of the plans the British had of capturing the munitions at Concord. In the North Church steeple in Boston is where 2 lanterns were hung, indicating that the British were coming by sea (river).

Interestingly enough, Paul Revere never completed the ride. He was captured and released, but the British kept his horse. And no taxis were running that day.

So why is his name mentioned in the poem by Longfellow that goes :

Listen my children and you will hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. (?)

Well, does this rhyme?:

Listen my children and you will hear
Of the midnight ride of William Dawes. (?)

I think not.

Concord is where the Old North Bridge was (a replica is there now) where the Revolutionary War began:

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Concord was the home of Louisa May Alcott. We didn’t have enough time to take a tour of Orchard House, where she lived, but did stay for the narrative they did of the Alcotts history in the school building that Mr. Alcott had run. Little Women is based on their story but in reality it was Louisa who went to war as nurse in the Civil War, not her father.

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Her father was a transendentalist and this is his school of philosophy behind their home.

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Poets/authors Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived in the same area and were friends of the Alcotts.

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We did a quick tour Plimoth Plantation before heading out for a whale watch tour. Definitely 2 different stories so I’ll start with PP.

The plantation has 2 different entities, the Indian village where you talked to Native Americans and they gave you the history & culture of the Wampanoag village that had been there.

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These ladies are putting a rabbit on a skewer:

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Burning a dug-out canoe.

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The English plantation is operated as if it were still 1627. The role players spoke with accents and didn’t know anything of past that date.

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Small houses that were probably 15×20 often housed 7 or 8 people. There was usually 1 bed set up and everyone else used mats.

Our whale watching excursion happened to be the choppiest day of the year. Capt. John’s crew told us it would be bad. In fact, they were giving away free dramamine when we got on board. And sure enough. Out of Plymouth Harbor it was like breaking a bronco going out and back. Imagine 2+ hours of bucking boat.

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You couldn’t walk around the boat on the way out without holding on tightly to every post in reach. Even using the loo created quite a challenge.

We did see a number of humpbacks and 1 passed right under our boat but  the 2 breaches we saw were in a distance and when you have both feet braced, and the rail tucked under 1 arm, and the boat lurching so bad that from the second floor deck you really don’t want to look straight down for fear of motion sickness, it was a little hard to actually capture the breaches with the camera. I got a splash but you really don’t want to see that.

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We did get to see several lighthouses and other pretty harbor views.


This boat is like the one we were on:

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The Mayflower replica:

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Our advice is that if they predict it to be really rough, it’s not worth going out. Even if you see the whales, by then the lurching will have done a psychological number on your mind, and the sight will hardly register. Thankfully, I did not get sick. That would’ve really made it a bust.

On our last few days in the NE states, we were back in Mass again. By then it was just Lois and I putzing along. We had been debating ferrying to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard Islands and finally decided on Martha’s Vineyard, since the ferry ride was 1/2 the cost and length, and if the predicted rainy day was as predicted, it would not be a great loss. On our way to Woods Hole to get the ferry, we first drove on the inner side of the Cape Cod area. The one beach we stopped at was very rocky. No sand in sight.

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The houses along here had the typical look of colored siding in the front and gray siding on the sides.

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And a few were gray all over.

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Then there were these tiny beach cottages.

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We wanted to find cranberry farms that were harvesting fruit but the season had been early and we found 1 bog that had a few left that had escaped harvest.

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The bog:

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The pump house used to flood the fields for harvest.

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A lonely looking geranium in a window at a museum:

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The ferry ride cost $15 each way as a passenger. Taking a vehicle costs several hundred dollars and up. There were buses, passenger vehicles and even semis on the ferry. Guess they were paying the bulk of our trip over.

Leaving Woods Hole:

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And passing several MV lighthouses:

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And massive vacation homes:

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And arriving in Oak Bluffs:

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The pretty mansions in a semi-circle:

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Another view of the ferry dock:

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We walked around the little town of Oak Bluffs but most of the shops were closed. Columbus Day is the last day most things are open. We were there the day after Columbus Day and 90% of the shops and restaurants were already closed. See in one store window:

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The bus schedule had already been shortened so we didn’t get to see as much of the island as we wanted.

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We ate at a Jamaican restaurant. Delicious!

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We were some of the only customers there so the owner/chef’s wife who was hostessing and waitressing, took time to chat with us for a bit.

We did get to one other little town and spent a few minutes enjoying their harbor:

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More enormous homes. This one with many windows!!

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Apparently a lot of construction goes on post season, as there were quite a few construction workers catching the ferry back home that evening. Guess they have to do renovations when the demand is gone.

While waiting for the ferry to leave MV, we observed the habor at Vineyard Haven:

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And lo, what did our astonished eyes see, but two men that were high, way high and barefoot, and dangling from a rope.

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Then the one man went one step further.

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We all waited with bated breath. But nothing happened. So the ferry left.


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And returned to Woods Hole.

And we went back to Plymouth and had one last seafood feast! Lois got a whole lobstah and I got a captains platter for us to share that was big enough to make even captain blush.

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You buy the lobstah, you wear the bib.

I bought the lobstah bisque. I ate it with delight.

The End.

Almost. The next morning there was a beautiful sunrise and we got to see the Mayflower

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and Plymouth rock.

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And I made a discovery. Do you know what the pilgrims survived on for the boat ride over?

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Yup. Nutrigrain bars. They had a wrapper there as a clue.

Some of the stores in Plymouth have interesting names:

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And the morning sunrise was beautiful!

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And then we had to get rid of our thrift store stuff (details coming in a later post) and we rushed back to Boston and missed our flight and Lois had a paring knife confiscated that was in her carry-on that she forgot about. She forgot about the knife, not the carry-on. And we caught the next flight instead and still caught our scheduled flight out of DC.

The End.

5 thoughts on “NE Trip Part 4 – Massachusetts

  1. In our opinion, walking around Boston is a LOT more fun than driving in it, and if it makes you feel any better, Boston was once rated to be THE worst city in America to drive in.  We heartily agree with that assessment!  But the area is so full of history…there’s never enough time to do all we want.  Enjoyed your pics again.  We’ve been to PP, toured the Mayflower replica, enjoyed the Ironsides museum,  the Old North Church and that area, etc.

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