Jersey?! Which Exit?

After Connecticut, my next goal was New Jersey. I am really crossing the states off my list now!

It was kind of an adventure getting there. I decided to use my paper maps until I got close. Unfortunately, paper maps (at least of the AAA variety) don’t warn you about which roads not to take.

I was rolling down Sawmill Parkway in New York State, when I noticed a few people honking as they passed me. “Odd,” I thought.

Finally a guy rolled down his window and motioned for me to do the same. I did, and he told me that trailers weren’t allowed on the parkway and warned me that I should get off or I might get a ticket.

I gave him a thumbs up and resolved to get off at the next exit. BEFORE I got to the next exit, I saw a sign warning of low clearance – 8’8″. GULP! My trailer is 10’6″. I slowed down and approached cautiously. The overpass was an arch, so I moved to the center of the roadway and kept my fingers crossed. It looked a lot taller that 8’8″. Luckily, they must have been measuring at the lowest part, so I passed through without an issue – unless  you call sweaty palms an issue.

I managed to make my way to New Jersey and to the parking lot where I was going to meet my friend, Mary Ellen. We sang in a church choir together in Kalamazoo. The last time I saw her was in 2006, when I stopped off on my way to a summer in Europe.

She invited me to park in her driveway and enjoy her hospitality. She didn’t have to ask me twice. Come to think of it, maybe I asked her if I could stay. In any event, she was a marvelous hostess!


She has a lovely home, but isn’t every house even better with an Airstream in the driveway?


When I think of New Jersey, I think of urban sprawl. Really, though, it is a state that is less developed and more agricultural that you might think. The deer were all over. I snapped this photo right across the street from her house.

Mary Ellen went to work every day, and I spent time at home. I was having trouble getting my website and blog to work, so I spent a couple of days working on that. When she came home, her dogs were waiting eagerly for her return.


Halen and Fiona are the corgis and poor Bree had to wear the “cone of shame”.


Here’s Fiona having a little “quality time” with Mary Ellen.


It was a novel experience to sleep in a bed with such a lovely quilt. Mary Ellen made it, and it is in my favorite colors. I left it on the bed when I departed, just in case you are wondering.


During the weekend I was there, we ran a few errands and stopped by Alstede Farms to drop off some boxes from the community supported agriculture that Mary Ellen belonged to.

I was amazed by the crowds turning out for the “pick-your-own” fun.


We also went in and bought some of their products. I mean, we managed to get in and get a parking spot – why not?


It was lovely to spend time with Mary Ellen, Bree,




and Fiona!

I hope it’s not ten years before we see each other again.

Next stop: Delaware,




I only had two days in Rhode Island, but I got to spend three in Connecticut. The odd thing about Connecticut is that it is kind of hard to find a place to camp. But, after searching all my usual sites, I finally found a spot at Portland Riverside Campground, a few miles away from Hartford, the capital of Connecticut.

It’s an unusual place, tucked back behind a marina and a boatyard. In fact, to get to the marina, I had to mince my way through a neighborhood, taking a left at a cemetery and down a road. However, once I got there, I had a beautiful view.


As you can tell by the color of the trees, this stay was quite a while ago!

I consulted my History Here app and found a few interesting places I wanted to check out.


The first was the Harriet Beecher Stowe house. After all, I had just seen her grave in Andover, Massachusetts.


She lived in this house from 1873 until her death in 1896.


In my quest to find out when things are memorialized, this plaque was posted in 1935. They have been working on renovating the house, and it wasn’t open to tours.


I liked this sign in front of the house. “Preservation Means Jobs In Your Community.” We all benefit when we take care of of our cultural resources.


This house is part of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Next door is the spectacular Katharine Seymour Cay House. It wasn’t open when I got there.


It is quite an elegant house, as opposed with the more ordinary, but still lovely, Stowe house next door.


The details are exquisite. Look at the colored inserts and the brick work.


The wrought iron supports for the gutters are works of art!

Not far away was Mark Twain’s house. He’s another person I’ve encountered before in my travels. I saw his grave in Elmira, and the house he and his family stayed in when they would visit.


I got there after they closed, but I walked up to take a look.


The brickwork was amazing! I had seen photos of the house, but they must have been incorrectly exposed. I always thought the house was a plain brown.

I walked up to take more shots and then I got the dreaded notice that my storage was full. Now, that shouldn’t happen!

That evening there was a story telling event at the Connecticut Historical Society, Speak Up. It was $10, and we got to tour the galleries before the show, and they had snacks and drinks before the show. It was fun.

The next day, I needed to attend to my phone. Could it be planned obsolescence? I mean, iPhone 7 had just come out.


Luckily, there was an Apple store at Westfarms Mall. It was quite the shopping emporium! The folks at Williams-Sonoma were making chicken stock, and the aroma was driving me wild!

I checked in at the Apple store and got my time to come back. I roamed around the mall for a while, until I realized that it was Sunday, and they would be closing at 5:00. Even though they gave me a time at 4:45, I figured that there was no way that they would be able to get my job done that day. I decided to go get something to eat and come back the next day.


I headed back to the campground. This interesting double hump bridge leads across the Connecticut River from the Hartford side to the Portland side.


Really, this campground was pretty nice, if you give a lot of weight to the view. I love the steam rising from the water in the mornings.


I went back to the mall and got in to the Apple store with only a minimal wait. (Well, maybe an hour…) It took the Genius who helped me more than an hour to get my phone working again.


When I got gassed up and ready to hit the road in the morning, I encountered a sign I had never see before. I don’t understand several things about this prohibition.

  1. Why would you place your gas cap in the nozzle.
  2. How would you place your gas cap in the nozzle. I mean, mine is on one of those straps so that you don’t loose it.


The next day, early, I got hooked up and ready to hit the road.

And, yes, I’m still with her!



Rhode Island

Rhode Island – the smallest state in the nation. Given the extra time the AC repairs took, this is going to be one of the quickest state visits so far.

I left Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod and made the trip to Whispering Pines Campground in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. I got checked in and set up camp. It was a pull-through site with electricity and water! Woo-hoo!

The main event for my first night in Rhode Island was dinner with a friend I met on Facebook. I like how social “social media” can be! We met for dinner at 11th Green Restaurant and Pub.


It’s always fun meeting people for the first time in real life. The pub was full, so they put us in the back room. It was nice and quiet so we got to chat.

The next day, I slept in. I did a bunch of phoning around and finally found an Airstream repair shop that can help me with what might be the source of the leaking I’ve been experiencing. I wish someone had told me that the roof needed to be resealed from time to time!

By the time I got showered and dressed and on the road, it was kind of late. I would have been happy to just hang out in the park, but I take my touristic responsibilities seriously. The only thing I really knew about Rhode Island was that there were all sorts of “cottages” in Newport that belonged to the rich and famous around the turn of the 20th century. I jumped in the truck and headed that way.

When I stopped for gas, I noticed a sign that pointed the way to Gilbert Stuart’s birthplace.

For those of you who may have forgotten, Gilbert Stuart is the artist who painted the famous portrait of George Washington.


This is called the “Lansdowne Portrait”. It shows Washington at age 64 renouncing a third term as President. It was painted in 1796 and commissioned by Senator William Bingham of Pennsylvania and his wife Anne. It was given as a gift of appreciation to British Prime Minister, born William Petty FitzMaurice; the second Earl of Shelburne and later the first Marquess of Lansdowne. He was an American sympathizer who supported the colonies independence in Parliament. He secured peace with American while he was Prime Minister of Great Britain.

I remembered much of this from lessons taught by my beloved art history professor, Sister Jeanne File. The rest of it came from searching on Google. Why? Because I was too late to visit the museum.


Oh, well.


As I walked up to the door to make sure that it was really closed, I caught the scent of boxwood. That seemed very appropriate, as I associate the smell of boxwood with George Washington and Mount Vernon.

I couldn’t go in, but I could look from outside the fence.


Gilbert Stuart was born in the red building. According to the information on the museum’s website, his room was right above the waterwheel. This building is unique  because it was both a family dwelling and a place of industry. It’s the site of the first snuff mill in the colonies.


I like the practical nature of the site. There is a second mill operating on the same mill pond.

The Stuart family lived here until 1761 when they moved to Newport. Many families lived here over the next 170 years. By the late 1920s, the buildings had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being torn down. A group was formed that raised money and purchased the grounds in 1930. The buildings  were restored by Norman Isham who was a renowned specialist in colonial restoration.


By 1933, the State of Rhode Island got around to commemorating the site, as well.

Outside the fence, there was also this interesting artifact. Do you have any guesses as to what it is?


It’s a leeching stone. I was used for creating potash lye, which is mixed with animal or vegetable fat to make soap. A barrel is fitted into the circle carved into the stone. Wood ashes are saturated with water and allowed to soak for about two weeks. After soaking, the barrel was filled with water and the liquid was allowed to seep out through the spout.


At least, that is the way it seemed from the somewhat faded sign by the leeching stone. I am always curious about how things are done.

With that, it was time to continue to Newport. I made my way to the area near the Cliff Walk. I parked by the beach and went to stroll in the surf.


The beach was wide and smooth and studded here and there with shells.


I looked around and took it all in.


Ah, the smell of money!

I read about the Cliff Walk on the internet, and it didn’t sound like a good hike. Well, not good for me, anyway. It sounded like the path wasn’t well-maintained and some property owners made it hard for people to pass though, even though people do have the right to access the trail. It was also damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

So, I looked for other things to do, and this lighthouse popped up. I drove over, but couldn’t access the island it’s on because it was being used for a conference.


I managed to get a nice view from across the water.

I also watched some kids playing on a dock and swimming. They were having so much fun. I loved watching this girl. First, she climbed up.


Then she lost her courage and stepped back down.


She must have watched her friends down in the water and decided she wanted to have fun, too.


And she jumped!

Afterwards, I walked over and showed her the photos, and she really got a kick out of them.


This is the bridge I crossed over to get to Newport. It’s the Claiborne Pell Bridge, named for Senator Claiborne Pell. He served in the Senate for six terms. I imagine most people are familiar with his name because he was the sponsor of the Pell Grant.

On my way back to where I had parked the truck, I stopped to notice some of the houses lining Washington Street.


There were large gingerbready houses.


The front of this house reminded me of the house I grew up in, except that we didn’t have dormers on the third floor.


Our house was the Marlin House and it was built circa 1927. Also, our house didn’t have a fancy plaque on it.


This is the John Bigelow house from around 1770. If  you fancy it, it could be yours!


It’s only $1,295,000. If you’re interested, contact the realtor. Actually, I was surprised that the price was so low.


There were large houses, like this one from 1794.


And small houses, like this one next door.


The Isaac Dayton house from 1786.


And they all had a lovely view.

By then, the time on my meter was about to run out and it was time to head back over the Claiborne Pell bridge and get back to my little aluminum home on wheels.

Cape Cod – the Rest of the Story

The next day the weather was better.


A lot better! I walked the beach up near Provincetown and enjoyed wading in the water.


After a stroll up and down the beach, I walked past these folks a couple times. I asked them what they were looking at. They told me that they saw whales! I stood and looked with them for a bit, but I saw about as much whale action as I did manatee action when I was in Florida last winter – which is to say, not much of anything.

After a bit, it was time for lunch.


I stopped at Mac’s Fish House. The reviews were good and they had a parking lot. Land is at a premium and parking that huge truck is always a headache. The fish was tasty and they had lots of ketchup. How could I leave Cape Cod without trying the cod?

I have to admit that the memories of my time in Cape Cod are a bit jumbled. It was a while back, but I still feel compelled to report on my stay.


The next day, I took a walk at low tide on the side that faces Cape Cod Bay.


Being a “Fresh Water Girl”, the idea of boats just being left there while the tide goes out is kind of amazing. It also gives real meaning to the phrase, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

I am kind of a beach comber at heart. I walk around looking at the sand.


This line covered with mossy plant material with some sort of a float at the end caught my eye.


So did the ripples in the water caused me to stop and admire them. I love the way the light refracts through the water.


I encountered these greenish clear blobs on the sand. I have no idea what they are, but I imagine they might be something I probably shouldn’t touch. When I was a kid, I remember walking out in the snow to entertain myself while my mother was visiting with a friend. I found all these unusual dark pellets on top of the snow. I collected a pocketful and took them in to show my mother. She laughed and told me that they were rabbit droppings. You can tell I’m easily intrigued by the natural world.


Then there were these tracks in the sand. I wonder what made them? I am sure someone out there knows. Me? Color me curious!

After walking out for a good, long while, I decided to turn around and head back to the parking area. Wouldn’t you know it? More lost shoes! Also keys…I hope someone comes back for them.


After that, I headed down the shore a bit to another beach. A woman in the tourism center had said that I might find some beach glass there. It was close to the site of the Sandwich Glass Company.


When I got to the beach, I found this wonderful interactive art installation – the Kindness Rocks Project.


What a great idea! I would have made a few if I had known about it. Although they invited people to take them, I didn’t. Rocks and the mobile lifestyle don’t mix.


There were lots of rocks to look at, and I studied them all, hoping to find a piece of beach glass.


After scouring the beach, I actually found the smallest bit of a brown beer bottle. Unfortunately, I misplaced it, so you will just have to take my word for it. (I know – I know – no photo: it didn’t happen. But you’ll have to take my word for it.)

By that time, I had worked up a bit of an appetite. I decided that since I’d already had cod on Cape Cod, I’d have a sandwich in Sandwich.

Near the Sandwich sandwich shop, I found a small memorial.


This is the first one I’ve encountered for 9/11 since I’ve been looking to see what communities choose to honor and when they do it. The date for “when” isn’t on it, but this is a pretty quick turn around, compared with some of the other monuments I’ve seen.

After lunch, it was time for the Sandwich Glass Museum.


Now, I had heard of sandwich glass my whole life (more or less) and I always thought it referred to the process of pressing the glass – the glass is “sandwiched” between the molds. Apparently, I was wrong.

The glass factory in Sandwich was started in 1825 by Boston entrepreneur Deming Jarves. He was familiar with the area because he hunted and fished here and he believed the area would be a good location for glass production.

But why? People who are familiar with what goes into making glass know that sand is an essential ingredient.


And while there is no shortage of sand here, the sand had too many impurities to be useful in glass production. So, what was the draw?


It was the fuel!

Glass melts at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. A factory requires a lot of fuel to keep the temperatures constant. And, the temperature has to be kept up even when they aren’t creating product.)

Jarves bought extensive woodlots of white pine in 1824 and hired local workers to cut and prepare the wood. In 1836, the furnaces were converted to burn coal, which proved to be more economical.

(Just a politcal aside: I wonder if the coal miners cared about the lumber jacks they put out of business? Did they consider their their employment put others out of work? Of course not! Keep me posted about how they are doing in “getting their jobs back”.)

I went in to see what it cost and to check out the gift shop – here you enter and exit through the gift shop. The cost seemed kind of high, considering that I have seen plenty of glass blowing. In fact, I have even blown a glass ornament at the Louisville Glassworks about a decade ago. I asked the guy to tell me what I’d learn if I toured the museum. He convinced me that it was worth my while because the glassblower would explain the connection of the factory with its location.


This was the first time I’d seen a glass blower working alone. Most of the time, there are at least two people working together – sometimes there are more moving around the action.


He created a vase, and it was interesting to see him work alone. However, he didn’t explain anything that was promised. He did direct me into the museum, where he said my questions would be answered.

And so I left the glass blower to learn more about the factory and its history.

Jarves left the company he founded in 1858, but the company continued producing fine blown, mold-blown and pressed glassware. The the middle of the 19th century, it had become one of the largest glass factories in the United States, employing over 500 people.

Following the Civil War, glass factories moved closer to fuel sources – such as the coal deposits in Pennsylvania and West Virginia – and they were able to undersell the inexpensive Sandwich products.

(Another political aside: Did the people in Pennsylvania and West Virginia mind the fact that they contributed to  hardship for the workers in Massachusetts? Doubtful.)

The company closed its doors in 1888.


This is the safe from the company, also called it’s “iron chest.” It was found among the demolished buildings of the company in 1920. It was quite an engineering feat. Over a treated wooden frame, it was covered with thin sheet-iron, and then banded and strapped. The metal was fastened  with large nails and had prominent knobs with cast iron heads. The keyhole was revealed by moving the knobs in a specific sequence. According to the label, it was probably made by a company in New York City that operated between 1825-1859.


Of course there was a lot of glass in the museum, too. I was fascinated by their large collection of “cup plates.” They are small plates, usually about 3 1/2″ in diameter. They were used to hold the tea cup while the tea was being cooled in the saucer. That strikes me as an odd practice, but it became popular in England in the 18th century, and it may have been a reaction to the discomfort of drinking hot tea from the handleless, oriental-form cups.


Do you remember this tea cup that Washington drank from at Munroe Tavern in Lexington? This is what they were using in the 18th century.

By the 1829s and 1830s cups with handles were in common use, yet the custom of pouring tea from the cup to the saucer remained popular in America. According to the information in the museum, the use of cup plates became unfashionable by the 1850s.


There were lots of beautiful pieces to examine. Vases made of colored glass,


clear glass pitchers,


these colorful pieces,


and fancy stoppered bottles.

They also produced lightbulbs for a while.


This one was produced in 1887. Of course, it was a short-lived production run, as the factory closed in 1888.

With that, I left the museum. I timed my visit well, as I hit just as one tour bus was leaving and left just as another was arriving.

Another thing I saw while driving around was a cranberry bog! It was sitting there, right next to the road.


I pulled over to check it out.


Imagine that! A pond with cranberries floating on it.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my last stop on Cape Cod was Hyannis Port to visit the Clinton campaign headquarters.


And, yes, I’m still with her.


And so is Jack.



Back to Cape Cod

My next destination was Cape Cod. I’d always wanted to go there. Growing up during the Kennedy administration, it always had such an allure. Also you have got to love a place named after a fish

Okay, this is probably the only time you'll find me referencing a fish on my blog
Okay, this is probably the only time you’ll find me referencing a fish on my blog

and a place that has its own style of house.


There is also the fact that my friends Susan, Liz and Pam vacationed there for years with their parents. I was so jealous! Well, finally, it was my turn to see the magical Cape Cod!

It was a dreary day when I pulled into Nickerson State Park. No hook ups, but the site was large and level, and I had a view of trees.


Always on the look out for the incongruous, I had to laugh at this “pay phone” near the office.


Of course, a pay phone location without a phone isn’t all that unusual any more. I remember how hard it was to get a pay phone installed at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport when the new terminal was built in 2011. They are taking out phones, not putting them in. What really gave me a chuckle was the sticker inside the shelter.


Hey – it made me laugh! (Your mileage may vary.)

The next day, I set out to explore. The weather was gloomy and damp. It drizzled and it rained and I learned the difference between water resistant and water repellant. My new jacket is water resistant and I was damp and chilly a good bit of the day. Thank goodness for a good heater in the truck!

I parked and set out to hike one of the trails. (Hiking sounds so much more vigorous than strolling – which is more like what I did.)

At the trail head, there were the usual list of rules and regulations.


Public nudity is prohibited? Drat! I guess I’ll just have to hike with my clothes on. It was too cold for strolling nude, anyway.

Unfortunately, I am writing this more than a month after the fact – actually closer to two months after the fact. So, if you know the details, feel free to post them in the comments. I picked up a brochure, but it dissolved in the rain.


There was this stone with a T carved into it. I think it marked the site of some former building.

I slogged along until I came to a fork in the road – so I decided to take it. (Thanks to Yogi Bera.)


I got to a turn off to see “Indian Rock.” I was curious. I love all the petroglyphs out west. I wondered what this might be.

It turns out that “Indian Rock” that is the record of the occupation of the Nauset Indians who lived beside the marshes of Cape Cod. They used this rock for grinding and polishing implements made of stone and animal bones. Stone axes were sharpened on the concave surfaces and bone fishhooks were shaped in the narrow groves.


This 20-ton boulder was originally located just below where I saw it, embedded in the mud of the marsh. The National Park Service moved it to this site in 1965.


This is the of the salt marsh. Salt marshes are something new to this freshwater girl.

I headed over to one of the two headquarters for the Cape Cod National Seashore. I needed to get a stamp in my National Parks Passport.

I took in an excellent video about the cape and toured a museum with some interesting artifacts. Since the weather was so dismal, it was rather crowded. I did manage to snap a few shots of some of the items that caught my attention.


This is a fly control box. They are placed in the marshes of Cape Cod. I had seen some in New Hampshire, but I didn’t have anyone to ask. The boxes are there to control the greenhead fly, which is known for its painful bite.

Female green heads lay two sets of eggs. After she lays her first set, she requires protein in order to make the second set viable. She gets the protein from blood, and they follow the carbon dioxide exhaled by mammals to find the blood. They are also attracted by the color blue.

These blue boxes. contain bait called Octnol, which is an artificial ox-breath. (Artificial ox-breath? There are so many things in the world that I had no idea that even exist.) They fly in through the bottom and are caught inside a secondary trap from which they can’t escape. According to the information I photographed, one of these boxes is capable of capturing twenty thousand greenhead flies in a single summer. That’s a whole lot of painful bites avoided.

After enjoying the information about greenhead fly control, I entered the museum. I was interested in the display about the breeches buoy that was used for rescuing people when ships would run aground or start sinking.

They would use a small cannon to fire a rope to the ship. They prepared the rope for this by wrapping it around the posts in this frame.


Directions were sent along for what to do. They were written on wooden paddles, that would definitely stand up to water better than paper. The directions were written in multiple languages, because trade has always been a multinational venture.


Then they would send across the breeches buoy. People would climb inside and stick their legs out the bottom and then slide back across the rope to safety.


Being a ship’s captain was a dignified profession. I was surprised that he would travel with a top hat. Popeye wouldn’t have had one.


Another interesting thing was that horses would wear bog shoes to keep from sinking when they were working in the soggy areas.


They actually had some bog shoes, but I couldn’t get a good photo.

After the museum, I drove around a bit more. The weather was improving.


By the time I got back to camp, I had a beautiful sunset. Perhaps the next day would be more enjoyable for being outside.



I’m With Her


My next destination on my journey was Cape Cod. The last thing I did on the Cape was pay a visit to Hyannis Port so that I could get my Hillary-Kaine sign for my trailer.

I have no eloquent words to describe the emotions I have been experiencing since the election. Horror, fear, revulsion, sadness – those words describe my emotions, but they aren’t exactly eloquent.

For me, this wasn’t a choice between the lesser of two evils. I was with her in the 2008 campaign, and I was with her from the beginning.

In case anyone is wondering, I’m still with her.

Concord, Massachusetts

The next day, I headed out to explore Concord. The first stop was Minute Man National Historical Park Headquarters. I watched a video and saw some displays.


I also had my picture taken with one of the Regulars. They were snappy dressers! I wonder how they could fight in such splendid clothes? Since they lost the continent, it kind of makes one wonder if there would have been a different outcome if they had worn more practical uniforms.

My next stop was The Wayside, which was a famous home. It was the childhood home of Louisa May Alcott and her family, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney.

Louisa May Alcott?
Nathaniel Hawthorne?
Margaret Sidney?
“Who?” I hear you ask.

Margaret Sidney was a children’s author who wrote the “Five Little Peppers” series of books.


Actually, “Margaret Sidney” was a pen name. Her real name was Harriett Mulford Stone Lothrop. There were twelve books in her series, written from 1881 – 1916. If you would like to read some of them, they are available via Project Gutenberg.


Quite a lovely house, isn’t it? I am partial to houses with porches. Hard to believe this large house started out in 1717 as a saltbox-style house.


Here are the additions and when they were added to the house.


Here’s a view of the back of the house. You can really see all the different additions from this point of view.

Now, I didn’t go inside the house. Although it was part of the Minute Man National Historic Park AND I bought the America the Beautiful pass that gives me access to all of the national parks, this one chooses to charge an extra fee for a tour. I figured that I didn’t really need to take the tour, but I did examine the displays in the museum that was in the space where Louisa May Alcott used to put on plays as a child.


The attendant graciously agreed to take a photo of me with the statue of Louisa.

After taking in the displays, I headed down the street to Orchard House, which is where Louisa May Alcott actually wrote “Little Women” which was published in 1868.


The dry, brown lawn shows the effects of the drought that has afflicted New England this summer. Orchard House isn’t part of Minute Man National Historical Park, so I had no expectation that I might be able to tour it for free. I did tour the gift shop, though. As might be expected, there were a lot of books for sale, as well as things printed with quotes.


I particularly liked this apron.


They also had boxed water for sale. That’s one way to cut down on all those plastic water bottles. I wonder if boxed water has the same élan as boxed wine?

My next stop was to meet up with my friend Konstantin to visit his beloved Walden Pond.


Konstantin and I had already met up once when I was in New Hampshire. When I was planning my trip to Massachusetts, it looked like he was going to be out of town. However, his plans changed and we managed to get together again. This photo is of us when we were in New Hampshire.

We met up in the center of Concord and he drove us over to Walden Pond.


Our first stop was a model of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin.


There was also a statue of Thoreau. You can see a stone in his hand. It is tradition to place different things in his hand. Had I been thinking, maybe I would have found something funnier for a photo op.


We took a walk around the Pond, which is a kettle hole that formed during that last ice age.

The water level is low here, too.


Konstantin told me that in normal years, this post is completely beneath the surface of the pond.


Konstantin documented my visit. Here you can see me with the walking stick he gifted me. Now I have a real walking stick and real hiking shoes!


We walked up a trail away from the pond to the site of Thoreau’s cabin. This pile of stones is a tribute from visitors to where he carried out his experiment in simple living. He built his cabin in 1845 on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. After he left the woods, the cabin was removed from the land. At first it was used to store grain. Eventually, it was dismantled for scrap lumber and the roof was put on a pig sty.

In 1945, which was the centennial of Thoreau’s move to Walden Pond, amateur archeologist Roland Wells Robbins searched for three months before he found the foundations of the cabin.


Here is the plaque that marks the location of the heath.


We continued our walk around the pond. Konstantin kept his eyes peeled for a treat he wanted to share with me. Finally, he found some.


Real concord grapes from Concord! They were quite tasty.


We finally made it all the way around and then it was time to say goodbye to Walden Pond.

Back to the campground for one last night. Next stop: Cape Cod.

Was that Lexington or Concord?

I have to admit it, but I had trouble getting around to writing the following posts in a timely fashion. Sometimes I had connectivity issues. For a while I had trouble with the website itself and that took some time to resolve. In any event, I am doing my best to get caught up almost a month an a half later.

My next destination was Lexington. I had hoped to get to Concord the same day, but sometimes the day just slips away.

I made my way to Lexington, fighting the usual never-ending traffic. I took me a while to worm my way into the heart of town. Not only were there busloads tourists…


…there was a craft show in the center of town.


It took me a while to find a place to park. Even Google Maps failed me, as one of the churches in town blocked one off the side streets for an event. I ended up having to back Bart up a steep, narrow street until I could find a place to turn around.

I got back into the center of town and found a FREE place to park. Not having to pay to park almost put me back in the mood to be a tourist. I  headed back toward the Battle Green. Before I got there, this sign caught my eye.


“Ye Old Burial Ground” Hmm. Well, it was worth a look. I headed down the road that looked more like a driveway than a public thoroughfare.


Sure enough, it was a graveyard that was filled with slate headstones.


Slate seems to be a superior material for headstones – well, superior to limestone, at least. In spite of the fact that these headstones are more than 150 years old, the carvings are crisp and easy to read.

I like to check out all sides of things, so I walked around to the other side to see what the back looked like.


I was surprised to see that they hadn’t smoothed off the back. I wonder if it was just a labor-saving technique, which would make the headstone cheaper, or if the extra material added structural integrity. I guess I’ll put that question on the list of things I want to find out someday.

I made my way back out to the street and I discovered that Ye Old Burial Ground was behind the First Parish in Lexington.


It was a Unitarian Universalist church and this building was erected in 1847.


They had a plaque under the portico that outlined the history of the building and its additions.


I like their practical approach to things. They modify buildings to suit their needs and take good care of them so that they last. I am a little surprised that the church was only destroyed once by fire in its long history.


By the time I got back to the Battle Green, the bus tourists had moved on, so I got to see what I was looking at. This monument marks the place where the remains of the people who died in the Battle of Lexington re-interred. They had been hastily buried in Ye Old Burial Ground after the battle, for some reason that wasn’t clear to me. From what one guide told me, it sounds like they had been buried in a mass grave. They were re-interred here in 1835, which was the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.

I headed toward the other side of the Battle Green, where there was tourist information.


I discovered another busload of tourists around the statue of the Minute Man.

I stopped into the Buckman Tavern, and the enthusiastic and sincere women in the giftshop/ticket area convinced me that it was worth it to buy a three-building pass for the most important places in town.


My first stop was the Hancock-Clarke House. This was the home of Reverend Jonas Clark, and John Hancock and Samuel Adams were staying there on April 18, 1775, when Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous Midnight Ride to warn that the Regulars were coming.

This is an important building in the Nation’s history, but it is pretty miraculous that it survived. It turns out that the house ended up being acquired by the next-door neighbor, who always hated it. The historians managed to convince her not to tear it down, but they had to move it across the street. When she finally died, they were able to move it back and put it on the original site.

Anyway, back to April 18, 1775.


According to the guide, Hancock and Adams actually sat at this table and planned. That is a good thing about thrifty families. They hold on to things and pass on the stories of their possessions.


The guide told us that these tiles around the fireplace that Hancock and Adams used were replacements.


Originally, they were the blue-and-white Delft tiles that were present at some of the other fireplaces in the house. The biblical themes were most appropriate for the Reverend Clarke.


Upstairs were the family’s sleeping quarters. This was the master bedroom. Just across the hall was the room for the children.


They had several sets of these trundle beds in the room,


along with other child-sized pieces of furniture.


When they were moving the house back to its original site, the found one of these caches of shoes and possessions in the wall. This was an old superstition designed to bring good luck to the house. I find it just a little odd that this tradition would have been followed in the house that the Reverend Clarke built.

Withe the first tour completed, I headed off to the second tour of the trifecta: Buckman’s Tavern.


Buckman’s Tavern was the main gathering place in town, and the headquarters of the Minute Men.


It also changed over the lifespan of the building. I guess that the building in illustration D would have been the way the tavern looked in 1775.

They had numerous rooms in the tavern. Some were dedicated to displays and others were set up as they would have been at the time of the Revolution.


This was the women’s room. Naturally, the menfolk wouldn’t want to spend time with the women. I suspect that the women preferred this arrangement, too.


The men had a room in the front of the building.


I walked past the front door of the tavern. I remember thinking, “This looks old, but it sure seems to be in good condition.” Well, not exactly.


This was the door to the tavern in 1775. It is mounted beneath plexiglass to the right of the current door. Do you see that little yellow arrow? That is pointing out a hole caused by a musket ball during the battle.

Upstairs were some displays. It seems that Lexington and Concord battled each other fiercely for the right to say that the first battle of the Revolution took place in their towns. Concord put down Lexington because they said that the Minute Men in Lexington pretty much didn’t put up any opposition to the Regulars – that they mainly retreated.

The people of Lexington say that they deserve the title because the first fatalities of the war happened there. Eight men died and ten were wounded.

At the end of the arguments, they asked us to vote. I chose Lexington.

There were also a few artifacts. This 40 foot long linen banner was made by the citizens of Lexington to honor Lafayette’s visit in 1824.


I wish I had started a running tally of all the Lafayette sites and memorabilia I have seen in my travels.


This is the original slate from the Obelisk monument that is in the Battle Green. It was erected in 1799, but replaced with a marble plaque in 1835 as part of the rededication and reburial of the eight men who lost their lives in during the 1775 battle.

This plaque was “lost to the ages” until it was discovered years later in Ye Old Burial Ground. It had been repurposed as the door to the Munroe Family tomb, with the inscription facing inside.

Speaking of the Munroe family, the last stop on the tour was the Munore Tavern.


It is located on the road between Lexington and Concord. It has two special significances to the revolution. The first is that it was used as a hospital and headquarters by the Regulars on their retreat from Concord.


This is another family that held on to things tenaciously. This is the tavern sign that hung outside at the time.


I was on the last tour of the day, and the costumed guide took care to point this out to me. I think it was on the ceiling, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is. However, I liked the photo, so I offer it to you for your perusal.


The other claim to fame was that George Washington ate here in 1789. According to the family lore, this is the actual furniture that was used. In consideration for Washington’s privacy, the family cleared out an upstairs bedroom and set up a dining room where he wouldn’t be disturbed by people staring in the window trying to catch a glimpse of him.


This is the chair that Washington sat in. According to family lore, the mother made each child sit in the chair immediately after Washington left and then told them that they were unable to lie and had to live up to Washington’s greatness. That became a family tradition, and you can see the result of generations of kids’ bottoms on the seat of the chair.


They also preserved all sorts of mementos related to Washington. This is the tea bowl and spoon he used at the dinner.

Any guesses about why this artifact was preserved?


Well, according to the label next to it, oral tradition holds that George Washington hitched his horse to this staple, which was attached to a tree outside the tavern.

By then, the guide and the ticket taker were getting ready to close up shop, and I was ready to head back to the trailer. The road took me back through Lexington


Finally, the busloads of tourists headed back to Boston and I could get a clear shot of the Minute Man.



October Out-go

On the positive side, October was the least expensive month since April. However, it could have been better. Once again, I had unplanned expenses in the RV category.

I found a REAL Airstream dealer that could get me in to check the caulking/seals on my roof. I didn’t know that was something that required maintenance. There was only one small area that needed attention, but while it was in the shop, I had them check the leak that I had recently discovered in the fresh water tank, and check out the leaky valve on the black water tank. The black water tank only required a good clean out and now it’s working great. The fresh water tank needed to be replaced. They had one in stock so I decided to have them do it. It was only dripping a little, but when I can, I prefer to avoid more serious problems down the road.

And, if that wasn’t enough out-go in the RV maintenance for one month, I also really dodged a bullet.

I am working as part of Amazon’s CamperForce in Campbellsville, Kentucky for their peak season. They pay for the campsite as part of the package. The only site I could find was kind of far out of town and didn’t have any amenities on site. No laundry, no bath house, no on-site management. In fact, I would have to get my mail through general delivery, and general delivery doesn’t accept FedEx or UPS. So, not really great.

A camper I met at training told me that there was a site available at The Resort, which is where I stayed two years ago. So, when I got ready to move to my new site, this is what I found:


A burnt out power cord?! What in the world?

And, if the power cord is burnt out, what does the power receptacle look like?


Oh, man! Like I said, it looks like I dodged a bullet. I could have really had some problems.

But, I got moved and then I started playing phone tag with a recommended mobile RV repairman. While waiting to hear back from him. I went to an RV dealer and got a new receptacle and cord to have on hand when he could get to me.

But, I started reading the directions, and I realized that it changing out the power receptacle should be pretty easy and I had the tools I needed, so I went ahead and did it myself!

The receptacle and the cord cost me almost $200, but at least I didn’t have to pay for someone to do it for me.

So, with no further ado, I give you my October expenses.

RV maintenance                            $1558.13
Groceries                                             362.46
Campsites                                            315.00
Gas                                                        310.92
Other                                                    196.67
Truck expenses                                  100.77
Restaurants/eating out                       82.66
Tolls                                                        12.75
Laundry                                                 12.68
Clothing                                                   4.68
Tourism/Entertainment                     10.00
Food/Drinks on the go                          1.69

TOTAL                                             $2,978.65

In October, I drove 1,573 miles and visited six states, including visiting the elusive state of West Virginia. That makes 40 states down with eight left to go!

I imagine that November expenses should be pretty low. For one thing, the campsite is paid for.  I have no time to spend money, as Amazon is a pretty demanding job. Expenses will be lower and I will have additional income!



Back to Massachusetts

When I finally got my air conditioner installed and could leave, I headed to Harold Parker State Forest, just outside of Andover, MA.

The site I had reserved was technically adequate. I would have fit in nicely, if the parking area wasn’t at am acute angle to the roadway or is there hadn’t been quite so many trees. But, I guess forests are famous for trees – at least in this part of the country. After almost an hour of trying to figure out how to get in, I decided that it wasn’t going to happen.

I headed back to the office and told them my predicament. The helpful ranger gave me a map with all the sites that were available and that might work for me. I pulled into this one with no problem. It was level. It had its own water faucet AND it was a pull through!


Ah, but no electricity. That was no problem. The site got enough sun to top off the batteries and I did just fine.

I examined my options, and I decided to take a trip to Salem.

I was amazed at just how slowly the traffic moved. Although the trip was less than 20 miles, it took the better part of an hour to get there. Along the way, I stopped in Danvers to see the memorial to the victims of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692 and 1693.


This park was dedicated in 1992 to commemorate the victims of the trials. The trials, which were held in several towns, resulted in the executions of twenty people. Fourteen of these people were women and all but one of the victims died by hanging. Five others, including two infants, died in prison.


They inscribed the last words of the victims on either side of the memorial.


Just across the street from the memorial was the site of the Salem Village Meeting House. Apparently, the building was dismantled in 1702 and the lumber was stored on the site of the memorial until it eventually decayed and mixed with the soil.


This is the house that occupies the site of the Salem Village Meeting House today.


On I went, to see what I could discover in Salem itself. I was amazed that I found a place to park. The beautiful weather had many people strolling about.

A brochure I had said that this is the oldest structure in Salem with direct ties to the witch

This was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who was called upon to investigate the claims of witchcraft that were made in the area. He served on the court that ultimately sent nineteen people to the gallows.

It is thought that the house was built sometime between 1620 and 1642. Corwin was 35 when he bought the house in 1675 and he lived there for more than forty years.. The house remained in the Corwin family until the mid-19th century.


There was the usual assemblage of period items in the museum, but one thing in particular caught my eye. They had created a little window into the structure of the building. I wonder if all the exterior walls were filled with rock and mortar?

The building was kind of crowded, as they were having a free day. So, after a quick glance around and seeing nothing else remarkable, I decided to see what else there might be in the neighborhood.


I came upon plaques set into the sidewalk for the McIntire District Walkway. It is a stroll through some of the oldest houses in the area. Just follow the arrows!


The building I noticed was Hamilton Hall. We were invited to go inside, according to the sign. The doors were locked, and I decided not to knock.


According to my research, the hall was commissioned by a group of Salem’s Federalist merchant families and cost $22,000 to build in 1805. Originally there were retail spaces on the ground floor. The second level ballroom features a curved balcony and a sprung floor for dancing. Lafayette was a guest of honor at a banquet here in 1824, according to a plaque next to the door.

In researching Hamilton Hall, I discovered that it is still in operation pretty much as its founders had intended. They have a lecture series that is sold out for this season and they a a popular venue for weddings.

I also discovered that I should have called ahead to schedule a visit.


On the opposite corner was the Butman-Waters House. It was built in 1806 by Samuel McIntire.

A little farther down the street was a house built in 1767 by Jonathan Neal, who was proud to call himself a carpenter.


Now, you have to know that a house that was built in 1767 would undergo some changes to reflect the needs of its occupants.


You can see the various additions that have taken place. You can also see that central air wasn’t one of the changes that was made.


This house was built in 1810 for Benjamin Cox, merchant.


This house was built in 1774 by Josiah Woodbury. Oddly enough, he was a mason. I assumed this means he was a stone mason, but perhaps he was a Mason.


I sure he wasn’t a Jackie Mason…


or even a Marsha Mason.


I continued on my way. There were more old buildings to see!


This is the Old Town Hall, which is the earliest surviving municipal structure in Salem. It was built in 1816. The second floor of the building contained a Great Hall, that was used for public meetings, as well as the town offices. The first floor was originally used as a pubic market. Now it is a museum that covers the 400 years of Salem history.

“Did I go in the museum?” I hear you ask. No, I didn’t. The ticket taker told me that it was only $4, which works out to $1 a century. I only had about 20 minutes until closing time, which worked out to about 20¢ minute. From what I could see from the entrance, there was only about $1 worth of exhibits in there, so I continued on my way.


Just outside and to the right of the entrance was this sculpture entitled Tradewind. It honors and celebrates the role that water and wind played in building Salem. According to the plaque next to it, the houses on the rods are designed to spin in the wind and they combine to form the shape of the Old Town Hall. Unfortunately, the wind wasn’t blowing when I was there.

Next to the Old Town Hall was the grand home built for Colonel Benjamin Pickman, Jr. As a merchant, a location right next to the pubic market was a very desirable location.


It was built by Joshua Upham, who as also a mason. Or is that a Mason? I wonder if he knew Josiah Woodbury?

This building has also been repurposed.


It looks as if it has been made into three dwellings.

Back to the main drag, and I came across the old entrance to the Peabody Museum. This part of is was in an old bank building.


Time was ticking away, and I didn’t have time to visit it. I guess I really ought to plan my visits more carefully.


I think I really would have enjoyed this exhibit. Bear in mind that these posts are landing much after the fact. This exhibit wasn’t open yet, so at least I don’t have to feel bad about missing it.

Just down at the corner, there was some art to enjoy!


This installation is by Patrick Dougherty and employs what he calls “Stickwork.” This piece is called What the Birds Know.


This is the Peabody Essex Museum’s first commissioned outdoor artwork.


It was constructed over the course of three weeks in May 2015.


Dougherty and a team of 50 volunteers worked thousands of saplings into forms that suggest dynamic movement.

Speaking of dynamic movement, there were families with young children who were really enjoying running around and through the structures. I kind of wanted to join in the fun.


I settled for having my photo taken with the structures.

Actually, there was a lot of art in the part of the city that I visited. Remember the bicentennial fire hydrants? Well, these electrical boxes provided a much better blank canvas for civic art, in my opinion.


We all know how important bees are.


I like this one because it shows the importance of trade in building relationships. Trade only builds positive relationships when it is mutually beneficial.


This one was just fun to look at.

It was time to head back to the truck. The sun was setting, and I am sure that the traffic was going to be even slower on the return trip.


In a small park near where I left Bart was a Little Free Library. Of course I looked inside. After all, it had my favorite word on it. (Free!) I didn’t see a thing I would read. Still, I like the concept.


And, what homage to witches would be complete without a nod to Samantha Stevens?