Thursday, October 20, 2016

Massachusetts: August 5, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....

Day 60--Tuesday, August 5, 2003

We got up and on the road early, because had lots of places to hit in a short amount of time.  Our first stop was Concord.  We went to the Minute Men Visitors Center, where the man behind the desk spoke passionately at length about all of the historical sites (but neglected the literary ones) and told us that it would take us the whole day to see the surrounding area.  We rolled our eyes at each other and got on our way.

We stopped at Wayside, which is this old house where Nathaniel Hawthorne (House of Seven Gables, Scarlet Letter), the Alcott Family (Bronson, of Temple School and Fruitlands fame, and his daughter Louisa, author of Little Women, plus the rest of their family), and Margaret Sidney (The Five Little Peppers) all lived and wrote.  We had to wait around for the tour to start, and even then it was only us and one other woman, who killed the wait time by telling us that she had just gotten back from a trip much like ours, but done it in about double the time.

Our tour guide was named Andy, and he did a great job with the tour.  He told us all the little fun facts, made jokes about the authors, and still managed to make it all seem very important.  We saw the stairs where the Alcott girls invented the game of Pilgrim's Progress, we learned that Hawthorne had gables put on all the windows in his portion of the house as a conversation starter, and we heard about how Margaret Lothrop, daughter of Margaret Sidney (whose real name was Hariett Lothrop) donated the house to the National Park to be preserved whens he got too old to take care of it herself.  Very interesting!

We walked by Orchard House, the home where Louise May Alcott lived when she was writing Little Women about her own childhood at Wayside.  We also saw the outside of Ralph Waldo Emerson's house, but it was closed for the day.  We ducked into the museum and bought some "souvenirs," really materials I can use to teach.

Our next stop was the Old North Bridge, site of the famous "Shot Heard Round the World."  There were nice memorials to both the British soldiers and to the American farmer who fired the shot.  The bridge itself wasn't much to look at, just a small wooden structure crossing a stream.

Our last stop of the day was Walden Pond, site of Henry David Thoreau's most famous writing.  As we pulled up, we realized that Thoreau must be perpetually spinning in his grave, because after all of his lectures on "simplicity," they were charging $5 admission to park at the pond.  To put it mildly, I was appalled.

The kid collecting money noticed the Phish sticker on our front windshield and asked if we had been in Limestone.  We said we had, and he said he had been there too and had just gotten back.  Ben seized the opportunity and said, "So, does that mean you want to let us park for free?"  The kid grinned, said sure, and waved us into the lot.  So I guess the concert did have its benefits.  :)

My feeling of disgust at the condition of Walden Pond certainly didn't lessen as we saw more of it.  The pond itself was beautiful with all the woods surrounding it, but a large white building serving as a gift shop, snack bar, and lifeguard hangout spot had been erected on the bank.  Furthermore, the entire near shore was peppered with white ropes designating different swim areas.  The beach was filled with mothers with babies running around in diapers and sunbathers set up under their giant umbrellas.  Somehow, I didn't think Thoreau would have been very happy about any of that.

We left and went to the Historical Society's gift shop, where I really stocked up on classroom materials in the form of postcards, pamphlets, a video, and a shirt.  By the time we left there, it was pouring rain, so we didn't get much more than a glance at the "fake Thoreau house," the scale model of his hut that has been reconstructed in the parking lot.

After driving for a little over an hour, we arrived in Plymouth.  As we pulled into town, Ben received a phone call from Temporary Avenue, where he temped after he graduated.  They said they had a great opportunity for him.  Basically, the company he temped at, Brylane, had a position for a financial analyst open up, and they requested Ben.  The job called for two to four years of experience, but they had been so impressed with Ben last time that they wanted him.

The news absolutely floored us, and we excitedly discussed the possibilities as we walked around town.  We snuck into the Radisson hotel to the bathroom, and then we set out for Plymouth Rock, discussing jobs all the way.

Plymouth Rock itself was a little disappointing, or at least I thought so.  It was smaller than I thought it would be, and it was set down in a pit under a covered pavilion so no one could get near it.  It had the year of the Pilgrims' landing carved onto it.  I was good after looking at it for about 30 seconds.

We then drove to Plimouth Plantation, which we had heard had all kinds of cool interactive exhibits.  It was raining by the time we got there, so we didn't really feel like doing all the outside stuff, plus it was too expensive, so we decided just to skip it and head for the ferry for Martha's Vineyard.

We got there early and managed to get on stand-by to an earlier ferry, so we arrived on the island much earlier than expected.  We got to our campsite and set up camp, then drove into town to get dinner at a restaurant called The Newes From America.  We had to wait for quite a while before we got in, and Ben got us drinks from the bar to sip while we waited.  We promptly got in trouble for taking glasses outside to wait, so we lost our drinks.  Dinner was good, and so were our Feist books, which we could barely put down.  We didn't finish until a little after 10:00, so we headed back to the campsite and went to sleep.

25 / 40

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