We began July in Boston. After taking the subway into the city, we walked to the Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center and signed up for a walking tour with a park ranger.
Our tour started right outside the Visitor Center at the Old State House. The building was constructed in 1713 and served as the seat of colonial and state governments. This was also the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770 when a crowd of Boston citizens were fired on by British troupes, killing 5. A circle of cobblestones marks the spot.
The old corner bookstore was built in 1718 as an apothecary shop. It became a literary center when authors such as Hawthorne, Emerson, Longfellow, Alcott and others brought their manuscripts to be published by Ticknor and Fields Co.
The Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston and as such many public meetings were held there. The Boston Tea Party was launched from here by Samuel Adams.
We walked through the North End, Boston’s oldest residential area. The Paul Revere house is the oldest building in downtown Boston, built in 1680. It was home to Revere and his family from 1770 to 1800. Revere was married twice and had 16 children. However, no more than 8 of them lived in the house at one time.
Walking thru the Little Italy area of Boston was interesting. There are many exceptionally good restaurants there. As it is in the North End, the streets are extremely narrow, some not wide enough for traffic.
The Old North Church is most well known for its role in the ride of Paul Revere. It is from the steeple of this church that a signal was given to warn Charlestown patriots of the movement of the British soldiers. The church is still an active house of worship.
Following our tour, we retraced our steps to Faneuil Hall, the old market building. It sits on the site of the old city dock. Town meetings were held here between 1764 and 1774. There are market stalls still located here, along with modern malls on 2 sides.
As it was lunch time, we decided we would eat at “Cheers” next to Faneuil Hall. A recreated bar from the “Cheers” set is the center piece of the restaurant. We had a good lunch on the outside patio. Although Boston was the setting for this TV series, only the exterior of the bar was actually filmed there.
Following lunch we walked to the State House. We were given a tour by a young man who was very informative. Occupying the site of John Hancock’s cow pasture, the original section of the State House was completed in 1798. The Doric Hall is part of that original building and serves as a reception hall. A large set of double doors leading outside are only used on three occasions. Those are when a Massachusetts regimental flag is returned, when a President of the U S visits and when a governor leaves at the end of his term. He walks alone from his office, down a stairway and out the doors.
An addition to the State House is the Great Hall. This large room was added in 1990. Flags of all 351 cities and towns in the state are hung in this hall.
There are beautiful stained glass windows at the tope of the stairs showing the evolution of the state seal.
The House Chamber was built around 1895 and is the largest of the legislative chambers. Of special interest is a large wooden carving of a cod that hangs in the rear of the chamber above the public gallery. It is a symbol of the fishing industry in the state and is considered a good luck charm. A session cannot be held if the cod is not in place.
The Senate chamber is smaller and is the former House chamber in the original part of the building. The Senate Reception Room is the former Senate Chamber. A golden dome, gilded with 23 karat gold leaf, is directly above this chamber. It is used as a reference point to measure distances to what is considered the center of Boston. A representation of a cod is also contained in this chamber in the lighting fixture.
Following our tour of the State House we walked across the Common and caught the subway back to our truck. The first of July through the 4th was the Harbor Fest celebration with many activities going on. We were planning to come back on July 4 for the famous Boston Pops Concert and fireworks. However, after talking to people and learning that 600,000 people were expected to be in the city that day and the concert area would only hold 10,000, we quickly changed our minds and decided it would best be watched on TV.
July 4th weekend was busy at the RV park. Most people who camp want to spend the weekend camping. We didn’t want to get out on the road with the holiday traffic and just spent the weekend quietly. The park had a band on Saturday afternoon and we sat outside and enjoyed the music.
East Brookfield had a large sign advertising fireworks on Saturday night and we drove into town to watch them. We found a good vantage point and parked. The fireworks were to begin at 9:30 but it was nearly 10 before they got going. We later heard that there was an accident at the site and that delayed the show. It was a very good show and we enjoyed it.
Plymouth is the site of the landing of the Puritans in this country. It was a beautifully sunny day to visit. Our first stop was Plimouth Plantation (original spelling), a recreation of the colony. Costumed interpreters assume the roles of members of the colony and answer any questions you have concerning the life at that period of time.
The houses were very small and dark. Each home had a small garden. Livestock in the village was of the breeds of the breeds of that time. We enjoyed walking around the colony and hearing the various stories told by the residents. The village at Plimouth Plantation is about 1/3 the size of the original village.
A recreated Wampannoag Indian village is also on the site with native Americans showing daily life and skills of the tribe at that time.
An exhibit on Thanksgiving and a film on the colony are also presented in the Visitor Center.
We drove to the center of Plymouth and found a parking place. We walked down the steps of Coles Hill toward the waterfront. Coles Hill was the site of secret nighttime burials during the early days of the colony. Settlers were buried there and corn planted on their graves so that the Indians would not know how many had died. A stone monument contains the bones of many of those who perished. A statue of Massasoit, the Wampannoag leader who befriended the colonists also stands on Coles Hill.
At the base of Coles Hill is the canopy covering Plymouth Rock. This rock is believed to be the landing place of the Puritans. We were surprised at how small the rock really is.
Nearby is the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that carried the Pilgrims to America. Costumed interpreters portray crew members and actual passengers. This ship was built in England and actually sailed here to its present berth.
We walked to the site of the actual first colony, located in a beautiful park with a clear stream flowing through. This brook was the reason for selecting this site for a village. The Howland house is the only surviving house in which a Mayflower Pilgrim actually lived. A grist mill is located near by.
As we walked back to the truck we looked at the many plaques on the houses giving the dates they were built and by whom.
We are sorry we have very few photos from this day. Dick thought Millie had the camera and she thought he had it. It was back at the park. We got a few photos with a binocular camera that we have but close-ups are not possible with it.
Our last day in Massachusetts was spent at Minute Man National Park. This park covers an area extending from I-95 west to Meriams Corner, then an area in Concord that includes the Old North Bridge.
We first stopped at the Visitor Center where we viewed an interesting multimedia presentation “The Road to Revolution”. It gave an overview of Paul Revere’s ride and the battles at Lexington, North Bridge and along the Battle Road.
The walking trail is 5 miles long and rain was threatening, so we elected to drive to the various points along the way. Our first stop was the Hartwell Tavern. The original building was built in 1733 and later added to. It was the home of Ephraim and Elizabeth Hartwell and their children and a stop for visitors to and from Boston.
A very interesting presentation on the Minute Men was given by a costumed ranger at the Hartwell Tavern. After explaining the role of the Militia and the Minute Men he demonstrated the firing of a musket. It was a very well presented program lasting about 20 minutes.
Following the program we walked a section of the Battle Road Trail. Interpretative signs along the way explain the different sites. The remains of the Samuel Hartwell house can be seen, along with the Captain William Smith house which was a farm during the revolution.
Nearby is the site where Paul Revere was captured by the British Regulars during his ride to warn the villages about the advancing British army, coming to Concord to confiscate arms hidden by the local militia.
We enjoyed the walk along the Battle Road. It is the actual road used at the time and is restored as near as possible to the original.
We drove through the pretty village of Concord and to the North Bridge Visitor Center. By now it was sprinkling. We viewed a video in the Center. The rain was beginning to fall when we began our walk to the historic site of the bridge where “The shots heard round the world” were fired on April 19, 1775. This is a recreated bridge, the original long since gone. The first bridge was built in 1760, replaced in 1788, and then a new bridge was constructed in 1874 for the centennial celebration. Five bridges have spanned the crossing since that time. The present one was constructed in 1956 and rehabilitated this year. A beautiful statue to the Minute Men stands at the site. On the town side of the bridge is a burial site of British soldiers killed at the bridge.
By the time we got back to the truck, the rain was slacking off. Fortunately we had our umbrella with us but still got a little wet on our walk.
Concord is not only known for the beginning of the Revolution but also as the home to many literary figures. Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcotts and Daniel Chester French are all buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Nearby are the homes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Orchard House, home of the Alcotts. It is in this house that “Little Women” was written. The Alcott family lived in this house from 1858 to 1877. Walden Pond, made famous by Thoreau is nearby.
“The Wayside” is a home with a rich literary history. We took a tour of the house with a National Park ranger. It was the home of Samuel Whitney, muster master of the Concord Minute Men. The house was purchased by Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May and the family lived there from 1845 to 1848. During this time the house was enlarged by tacking two sheds to the sides.
Nathaniel Hawthorne next purchased the house. It was the only home ever owned by him. He enclosed the front porch and added the 3 story tower. The top floor of the tower was his study where he did his writing.
The house was next purchased by Daniel and Harriet Lathrop. He owned a publishing company and published magazines and books for children. Harriet was an author and wrote under the name of Margaret Sidney. She authored the “The Five Little Peppers” series of books. Millie decided that she must have been deprived as a child as she only had one of the 12 books of the series. Of course, she didn’t even know there were 11 other books!
The Lathrops were very interested in preserving the history of the house and kept as much in tact as possible. In the kitchen are even two of the original Edison light bulbs, which, according to our guide, still work.
On one of our trips on I-95 we noticed a large pine tree looming over the other trees in the area. We managed to get a picture of it through our windshield. Look carefully at it again, it is not a tree at all but a cell phone tower camouflaged to look like a tree. We don’t know the story behind it but it certainly was an oddity.
Saturday July 10 was moving day and we hitched up to head north. We were rolling along I-95 until about 4 miles from the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border, when traffic reached a near standstill. It was stop and go for the next about the next hour, 4 miles in distance. We finally reached the hold up, the toll plaza. It was 12 lanes, all open and more traffic than you can imagine. There were lots of campers and travelers heading north. It was going to take much longer than we anticipated to arrive at our destination.
We stopped at the Visitor Centers for New Hampshire and Maine to pick up maps and information on these states. We like to have the information on attractions where we will be staying.
We arrived at Pumpkin Patch RV Resort in Hermon, Maine around 5:00. After registering we got set up on our large full service site. This park is only 4 years old and has 48 sites. The sites are large with gravel pads and nice grassy areas between pads. The staff here is very friendly and helpful. Only 5 miles from Bangor, we highly recommend this park if you are in the area.
Dick had made an appointment with Freightliner of Bangor for the 12th to have the first scheduled maintenance done on the truck. We also had a couple of minor warranty repairs that needed attention. It is not like going to an auto dealership, and Dick was gone all day. One of the repairs was not completed, a part needed ordered so he will have to go back in a few days.
On the 13th we took a drive to Bangor and then down highway 1A which runs along the coast. It was a pretty drive, going through many small towns, but not as near the shore was we were anticipating. We came back via another route further inland, again enjoying the countryside.
On the 14th the rain began, so we stayed home and did such things as working on the webpage, ironing, etc.
After several rainy days, the sun reappeared. On the 17th we found our way to Leonard’s Mills, home of the Maine Forest and Logging Museum. This recreated logging and milling community of the 1790’s was not easy to find but we managed.
Several weekends a year costumed re-enactors provide living history at the camp and this was one of them. After parking we walked down a dirt country lane and crossed a covered bridge. Beside the bridge sat the water driven sawmill and mill pond. We watched as a log was sawn into boards by the up and down saw. This is the first water powered saw we have seen in action and it was very interesting to watch.
Wagon rides were being offered with two teams of horses and a team of oxen pulling the wagons. It is surprising to us how gentle the oxen are.
We watched as biscuits were baked on an open wood fire using reflector ovens. These were offered to everyone and were excellent. (Free) Bean hole baked beans were also being demonstrated and samples given out.
The blacksmith was demonstrating his craft in his shop. Watching the iron rod becoming something useful is always interesting. We always wonder how many burns they acquire before they perfect their craft.
A potter and a chair maker were also doing demonstrating their skills. The chair maker had some beautiful Windsor chairs but of course, we have no room for such large items.
A typical home of the era was staffed by ladies doing quilting and braided rag rugs.
Boat rides in a bateau were offered on a large pond. These boats were used on log drives in later years. We also visited a trapper’s camp and a log cabin.
Our last visit of the day was to the shed where a Lombard Log Hauler is under restoration. These log haulers were used to move logs from the forest to the stream where they were floated down to the mill.
One of the things we found of interest was that logging in Maine was done in the winter; therefore, the log hauler has sled runners on the front. It pulled sleds on which the logs were stacked. The logs were then unloaded onto the ice of the river and in the spring when the ice thawed the logs floated downstream to the lumber mills.
After we returned home, Dick decided to work on the webpage and Millie went to Orland, about 35 miles away to visit a wonderful quilt shop. The Quilter’s Cabin sits on a hill and has a wonderful view of the river valley. Millie thought it would be wonderful to have a place like that surrounded by fabrics and such a terrific view! Naturally, some fabric came home with her.
Sunday we shopped for groceries and Millie washed fabric she had purchased to make a Christmas quilt. She pressed the fabric and got it ready for cutting Sunday evening. Monday she got most of it cut. Tuesday evening she finished cutting the fabric and on Wednesday she began the sewing. Dick is wondering how many Christmases before the quilt will be on the bed.
Tuesday we made a day trip to Augusta the capitol of Maine. We found the State House easily and parked. Finding the correct entrance to the building was not quite as easy. As most of the Capitols are now requiring security screenings, not all entrances are open. Each time we visit one we have to search for the open entrance. Invariably this is on the opposite side of the building from our first attempt.
We entered the building and inquired about a tour. The helpful security officer told us that one had just started and took us in the elevator to the 3rd floor where we joined up with the guide and one other couple.
The tour was not very long, we were shown the House and Senate Chambers and given an overview of their membership, etc. The State House was completely remodeled in 1997 and all new furniture, etc was placed on both of the chambers, so there was nothing really unique about them.
We stopped on the second floor for a look at the hall of flags before leaving the building.
Although the State House has a very impressive dome, there is not decoration inside the dome as we have seen on others.
Dick moved the truck over to another parking lot and we entered the State Museum of Maine.
The museum contains exhibits of life in Maine and is very well done. We highly recommend it if you are in the area. The Maine Bounty exhibits feature agriculture, fishing, ice harvesting, quarrying and shipbuilding. An exhibit consisting of part of a sailing vessel built in Maine and wrecked on the Falkland Islands on its maiden voyage was very interesting. As the Falklands have no wood eating insects and the ship was new, it is in extremely good condition.
The nature exhibition shows nature scenes in various seasons and contains many of the flora and fauna of Maine.
A large and informative exhibition “Made in Maine” shows the evolution of work environments from home industries to the large mills of the textile industry. The centerpiece of this exhibition is a two-story water powered woodworking mill.
We were up early (5:00) on the 22 and drove to Bar Harbor. There we boarded “The Cat”, North America’s fastest international car ferry for a 3 hour trip to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
The ferry ride is an experience in itself. The INCAT 98 is a wave-piercing catamaran car passenger ferry. It was manufactured in Australia. At 320 feet long, it can carry up to 250 cars, tour buses or motor homes and 900 passengers. It is powered by four 9500 horse power engines and can travel up to 55 mph. (Quoted from the Cat Brochure)
The interior of the passenger deck is much like a small cruise ship with large reclining lounge seats, 2 snack bars, a small café, duty free shop and casino. The ride was very comfortable; however we were unable to see anything outside due to heavy sea fog.
As we arrived in the harbor of Yarmouth, the fog lifted giving us a postcard view of the harbor and lighthouse. Unfortunately we were unable to get photographs.
After a long wait in the Customs line, we climbed aboard a bus for a tour of the area with a knowledgeable guide named Joel who is from the area.
We visited a lighthouse area and fishing dock where Joel explained the lobster and fishing industry of the area. After driving along the coastline and through the small villages we reached an area restaurant where we had a late lunch. The food was good but very slow getting to us.
After lunch we crossed the causeway to San Sable Island. We again drove along the coastline through small villages. We stopped at a boat building operation where they were working on a large pleasure vessel. Boat building and fishing are the main industries of the island.
Our next stop was at The United Baptist Stone Church in Clark’s Harbour. This church was began in 1921 and completed in 1927. The foundation is of native granite blocks, 3 feet thick and hand-cut. The walls are built of granite stones from the local sea shores.
The interior of this church is very unique. It is of hand hewn lumber. The ceiling beams are built in the shape of an inverted ship’s hull. The walls are beautifully finished with high gloss varnish. The church also contains many beautiful stained glass windows.
The Bible, pulpit, pulpit chair and memorial tablets are from the original church which was replaced by this church.
We were next taken to view a typical fisherman’s home of the 20th century. The lady who lived here did so until she was 100 years old. This was her home all her life and was left intact when she died. Very few modern conveniences are found in the home.
Our last stop of the day was at the Heritage Center. A retired fisherman, Clyde, gave an interesting and informative talk on lobster fishing. He demonstrated a lobster trap that he had built. These wooden traps have been replaced now with traps of vinyl coated wire and the skills to build them are disappearing.
The Heritage Center also had exhibits of a fishing boat developed on the island and now used by large numbers of fishermen worldwide. The design is based on the shape of the seagull.
One of the local ladies was demonstrating quilt making and other exhibits depicted island life.
When we returned to Yarmouth, a drive through an 18th century neighborhood gave us a look at the homes built by wealthy sea captains.
We boarded the Cat and again the fog closed in as we left the dock. After returning to Bar Harbor, we cleared customs and made the drive back to Hermon. It was a long day, with us finally getting to bed around 1:00 AM.
One of the local TV stations in Bangor has been running a series on little known destinations in Maine. We saw a piece on a waterfall that Dick decided would be a neat place to visit. It was mentioned to be a 1-1/2 hour drive north, so on Saturday the 24th we headed towards Shin Pond and Shin Pond Brook Falls.
The drive turned out to be more than 2 hours and the dirt lane to the falls poorly marked. We finally arrived and after parking, found the trail to the falls. The trail led to the edge of a steep bank. We could hear the falls but could not find a good path to get down to them. After trying several trails we finally gave up. We weren’t the only ones; several families with small children were also trying to see the falls.
It was a long ride for not being able to view the falls, but we did see some of the area and small villages. Of particular beauty was the view of Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine.
St. John, New Brunswick is known for the high tides of the Bay of Fundy. We have read about these tides and wanted to see them. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. The difference in low and high tides on the day we arrived was 39 feet. (Note the green boat house.)
We arrived in the city of St. John and after a few wrong turns found our way to the large lot designated for free RV parking.
We walked a few blocks to the waterfront and had lunch at Market Place Square, a modern shopping and convention center. A large cruise ship was stopping for the day and there were lots of people in the shopping area.
After lunch we made our way the famous Reversing Falls. This is a natural phenomenon caused by the large tidal swing. The St. John River empties into the bay through a narrow gorge. An underwater ledge of rock causes a series of rapids here. At low tide the river flows into the bay. Jet boats take thrill seekers on rides through the falls. We watched as some of these boats made their way over the falls and played in the whirlpools below.
After viewing the falls at low tide, we went back to the center of the city, this time finding the parking area without difficulty. We walked along the boardwalk to Princess Street. The Barbour’s General Store is a 19th century country store with over 2000 items of the period including china, fabrics, clothing and goods sold during that time period.
We walked several blocks uphill to the Hayward China Museum. This museum preserves the history of the china and earthenware industry in St. John. It is contained in the store of Hayward and Warwick Company, Ltd, one of the oldest family owned businesses in the city.
Walking another few blocks brought us to the St. John City Market, built in 1876. This market is still in use today with many stalls selling produce, meats, local crafts and food.
After walking back to the truck we drove back to the Reversing Falls. It was nearing slack tide, when the incoming tide causes the bay to become level with the falls. We watched as the last of the thrill boats ran the falls area. When the current causes the river flow to nearly stop, boats can navigate the falls. We watched as a fishing boat and a sail boat under power both passed the falls. There is a 20 minute period twice a day when this is possible.
We had dinner in the restaurant overlooking the falls and watched as the tide began to push the river flow backwards. Eventually the flow causes rapids to form the opposite of what they were going during low tide. We stayed until we saw the rapids beginning to form back up the river, then left. It was getting late and we still had a long drive back to Bangor.
On the 27th we took a day trip to Acadia National Park, located on Mt. Desert Island. The island was discovered by explorer Samuel Champlain in 1604. The first English colony was established in 1761. The island is a beautiful area and eventually became the summer residence for many of the wealthy in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
To help preserve the beauty of the island, 5000 acres were donated to the Federal Government. It was designated a National Monument by President Wilson in 1916. Expansion by donations of more land occurred and it was designated a National Park in 1919, which made it the first National Park east of the Mississippi River.
We first stopped at the Hull Cove Visitor Center where we viewed a film on the park and picked up our park map.
We drove on the park loop road to Cadillac Mountain. At 1530’ this is the highest mountain on the eastern seacoast. The view of the coast and islands is outstanding.
We drove into the town of Bar Harbor in search of lunch. After finding the designated RV parking area, we walked back into town and had lunch at an outside table of a nice restaurant. It was a wonderful day to be outside and the food was great.
Following lunch, we drove back to the park and along the 27 mile loop road. A large part the drive follows the beautiful coastline. We stopped at Thunder Hole, where waves flowing into a narrow notch in the rocks cause a loud booming noise.
The loop road is mostly one way and heavily traveled. The views are spectacular. We will come back to the park another day or two to attend some of the Ranger programs and hopefully to bike the Carriage Roads of the park.
The last day of July we drove south of Augusta to check out the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum. This museum of “Maine Two-Footers” is well off the beaten path but we were able to find it.
The “two footers” were unique narrow gauge railroads with the rails placed 2 feet apart. The WWFRY has one of the tiny engines that run on these rails and they offer rides on the weekends.
This railroad is run by a group of dedicated volunteers and so far they have about 1-1/2 miles of track laid. They have one restored engine, a flat car and a passenger car. The passenger car has a single passenger seat on each side of the isle. Although these look almost like toy trains, they were used to haul freight and passengers in this area for many years. They have a website, www.wwfry.org if you want to see more about this railroad.
In our travels up and down I-95 we have seen several Bald Eagle Nests. This one was quite near the freeway, so we stopped to take a look. We wonder how they manage to keep these nests on top of the power towers.
We had some rainy days this month and cooler than normal weather for here but we are enjoying this area. On the days we didn’t tour, we did the normal every day things, laundry, cleaning, just loafing. Millie worked on her Christmas quilt and has the top all pieced. Dick worked on the website and the girls (Missy and Ming) just loafed around.We will be in Maine until August 10 when we leave for New Hampshire.
(Be sure to visit the Photo Gallery for more photos.)