Day 7 – Freedom Trail

After a short discussion on Boston traffic it was decided the merits of heading into Boston in the evening outweighed an early hotel. We found a hotel located just outside of Plymouth and decided it would fit into our schedule of one more fun thing we could pack in. So after a quick stop at the Ocean Spray cranberry bog we headed into town to find the most famous Plymouth Rock. 
We’re guessing the rock is 6ft long…

I’ll have to tell you the rock was a bit of a letdown. Rebecca had read up on it and explained that way back there was discussion whether this particular rock was the actual spot of the Pilgrims landing. The people of the time decided it should be and wanted to move the rock to a protected area. While moving it it got broke. But some good super glue put it back together and the townspeople put it on display at the beach. Hmmm… I’m sharing a picture so you, too can be impressed.

Mayflower II, bigger than I expected.

Next to the famous rock was the Mayflower II, a replica of the original sailing ship. We then walked through town to the oldest street in America on which was the oldest house. The street was paved and all that was left of the house was a marker. My take, Plymouth has an interesting heritage but not much of the original events remain.

Then back to Boston. The day was absolutely beautiful and after some instructions from our hotel staff we managed to find the subway and ride in to town. (This GPS continues to vex me and I was most willing not to have to navigate.) The Freedom Trail starts at the Boston Commons Park. A beautiful tree filled park that also was filled with kids touring just like us. Maybe it’s the end of school field trips? The Freedom Trail is a marked pathway that leads to many historical buildings and landmarks of the Revolutionary time. Everything you learned in school comes to life. There are several statues of the heroes of the era. Patrick Henry was one of my favorites. Do you know that people were so upset about the British tax situation (sugar and tea) that they packed over 5,000 into one of their meeting halls? They must have come from miles around to attend the events. The patriots knew that by speaking out they risked the wrath of the king; still they did it.
On the side it says: A Statesman; Incorruptible and Fearless.

Downtown Boston is a crazy mixture of old and new. Skyscrapers are next to brick buildings built in the 1700’s; wide roads move traffic on one block but the next intersection narrows back to a cobblestone path. Along the trail are many restaurants filled with wide open windows to the street. It would be easy to do some taste testing as you walk along. 

Old North Church

They tell you that the trail walk is just over two miles one way.  But stopping to look at each building, statue and house (like Paul Revere’s) really adds to your time. We also were distracted by some fun street dancers who were set up in one plaza entertaining the crowds. It took us the whole afternoon and we surely could have spent more time just soaking it all in. One thing that really surprised us is that many of the exhibits, including cemeteries were closed before 5pm. And, as Rebecca just reminded me, we were disappointed that many of the buildings charged a small fee. The walk itself is free but if you want to visit say, Paul Revere’s house or the Old North Church it will cost. Still, we’d rather see the history preserved so when you go don’t be a cheap skate. 

And that concludes our trip. Some people ask why we try to pack so much in to one visit. The reason is because I think it gives us a good sampling of the area. We may not make it back but if we do we’ll know what areas we really liked and be able to focus on them. 
Tomorrow is another flying day. We are hoping for a much easier trip this time around.

Day 6 Down East in Maine

Since I already whined about our breakfast deal yesterday, I’ll save you the pain of hearing it again.
I wish the TSA agents at the airport could be trained by the Border agent we had this morning. He quizzed us thoroughly, looked at everyone and then let us through. TSA would do well to profile for bad guys rather than assuming all fliers are bad… but no politics today.
Bob’s Father’s Day present was a very nice policeman not giving him a ticket. Ha. Talk about raising your blood pressure. We were driving along a lovely stretch of countryside, just minding our own business when an unmarked police car pulled us over. Apparently, Bob might have been going a little fast. But the officer said it was possible that his radar gun was off and that Bob really wasn’t driving as fast as it said…and since it was Father’s Day he just wished us safe travels. Whew.

The shore of coastal Maine is just as pretty as you imagine. Of course, it helped that it was a picture book day. Just a bit of fog firs thing and then beautiful blue sky. We realized as we’re snapping tons of pictures that we focus on limited things: water-ocean, lakes, rivers, rain; flowers-all those wild roses and lupine and then close ups of all the same flowers; and each other-how lame we are taking pictures of each other taking pictures… But, back to the countryside. Lots and lots of two or three story homes many built in the late 1800’s (some earlier, but not like VT where we found many built in the late 1700’s), generally with well-manicured yards. I think a Sears-siding salesman could keep very busy up here. Much as Rebecca wanted, we were not able to drive the coast road the entire way. It would be a fun vacation, just by itself. 

There is an elevator that goes all the way to to the top of this tower in less than 50 seconds.

We did find a giant fort to explore at Bucksport by the Penobscot River. We have seen many forts across the country but this one is in amazing shape and absolutely huge. (As I write this they are arguing when it was built… I’ll check for you.) It was fun to walk through. Next to the fort were two giant bridges over the river, an old rusty one, no longer in use and a fancy brand new one with an observation deck in one of the towers. As we discussed visiting the observation deck Matthew and I heard that it was 400 feet. He and I decided it would be much more pleasant if we waited down near the wild roses while Bob and Rebecca rode the supersonic elevator to the top. They told me they took pictures… I’ll see if I can find one.

Ready for a quick shopping spree!

Of course, no trip to Maine would be complete without a trip to LL Bean. We found their store…or should I say giant complex in Freeport and took a quick run through. Much as I’d like to, we didn’t spend the rest of the day shopping there. I love that store! 

Okay, here’s your tip for today. Maine became a state in 1820. So it is not one of the 13 colonies. But you knew that. Oh, and everywhere we went there were ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags and posters. Definitely leaning towards Libertarian.
That’s about it for the day. Tomorrow we will be back in Boston and going on the Freedom Trail. No rain in the forecast.

Day 5 Sittin’ at the Top of the Bay…

Today was dedicated to tide watching. New Brunswick borders the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the world. The town we stayed in, Moncton, is on a river at the very head of the bay so this morning as we headed out we could see how high (and low) the tide was as it changes the river height even some 30 miles from the bay. 
Nearly high tide. At low tide you can play under the rock.
We drove south to Hopewell Rock which is where all the advertising pictures for the Bay are shot. We were worried we wouldn’t be able to see much as it was just about high tide but because today wasn’t a ‘high’ high tide (only 36 feet instead of the possible 45) we were still able to get down to the water’s edge. Looking at how the incessant water erodes the rocky cliffs is pretty impressive. It was fun to stop there and you should go. BUT…
As we headed further south we decided to stop and see the lighthouse at Cape Enrage. It was well off the beaten path up the hills, around the mountain and through the woods.  We got to the pretty bay and almost stopped thinking we’d spent enough time but decided to head around one more corner hoping for the lighthouse. We found Cape Enrage. Lucky for us. The view was absolutely amazing, we could see from high the water racing out for low tide. When we drove up to the pay station we were told that today was a special day. No charge. The Premiere was coming to visit. They welcomed us as if we were part of the party. We got out of the car and one gal grabbed the camera so we could have our picture, a few minutes later another one did the same…a different shot of the lighthouse. They were all in a very celebratory mood. They had a new Zip Line set up and apparently the Premiere was planning to ride it. Bob and Rebecca, thinking they were also dignitaries, wanted to ride it too. I really couldn’t believe when they came out all set to race across the sky, tethered only to a thin, thin wire. (I asked Bob if he told them his true weight…for heaven sakes…) Off they bravely went and soon zipped out of the trees over to the lighthouse. They said they had fun. Matthew and I had fun watching them.
Videos are on the blog
We decided not to wait for the Premiere though it would have been fun to meet him…or her… Our lack of Canadian knowledge is becoming apparent.
The next stop was at Saint John which apparently is the only city on the bay. We got there just in time to watch the tide rushing back in pushing up against the river. The whirlpools looked so strong. It was a major battle between the river and the ocean. Back and forth as they win for a few minutes then give way and then back again.
Sad to report we haven’t seen one moose. Berries are just starting to grow. Bob asked a kid who was eating his lunch and had a big bowl of beautiful raspberries if he had just picked them. The kid was compelled to tell the truth, that he had bought them at Costco.
Our last stop for the day was at the beautiful little coastal town of St. Andrews. Our hotel was on the bay and we thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the little balcony watching the tide roll in and out. This town is at the mouth of the Bay of Funday. It also experienced similar high tides but without the force and current we saw to the north. It was interesting that the sail boats anchored in the harbor all tilted as the keels touched bottom during low tide. Bob and I sat outside in the morning drinking our coffee thinking this was a pretty much perfect way to relax. 
St. Andrews with tide heading out.
We did come to one interesting conclusion though. People along our route kept mentioning that St. Andrew’s was a resort town. I’m kind of thinking ‘resort town’ in Canadian means, lots of ice cream and fudge stores but little else. There weren’t even any restaurants open for breakfast on Sunday morning. I know all this because our reservation was supposed to include breakfast. When we asked about it the staff said they offered donuts with the coffee. Breakfast might start next week, they said. As you can guess, no gluten free donuts for Matthew meant no donuts for any. Good thing I packed those granola bars…
Tomorrow Down East in Maine and back to civilization.

Day 4 Kindred Spirits

Looking back at the Confederation Bridge. 10 miles of scariness.
Finally, we made it to Prince Edward Island. It was a cool day, the temperature never getting over 57.  It was still early when we drove over the Confederation Bridge. I managed to talk the whole time across the 10 mile bridge, keeping my hand ready to help Bob just in case he drove too close to the edge. Rebecca reminded me I should have brought my emergency windshield breaker (the kind that allows you to leap out of your drowning car…)
Freshly planted fields on PEI. Oyster beds are just to the right in the bay.

There is no way our pictures can do this beautiful island justice. It’s a patchwork quilt of little farms and rolling hills. And at the edge of the island the land suddenly cuts away to red clay cliffs into the ocean. They grow lots of potatoes and hay and we saw many cows. In the bays there were oyster farms. Interestingly, most of the gardens appeared just recently planted.

That reminds me; we discovered that up here it is not yet summer. Kids are still in school and while everything was open we were just on the cusp of their tourism season. So there were no crowds anywhere. The people told us that “in summer” all the streets and beaches were filled. 
Hey, there we are, looking up at a kindred spirit in Anne’s bedroom.
For you Green Gables fans we found the Lake of Shining Water and visited one of the many museums dedicated to Anne and the author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne, of course, was a fictional character but the towns embrace her as their heroine. We could just imagine the little orphan Anne’s first impressions of ‘Avonlea’. The people we interacted with were all just as friendly as we would expect to find in the books. It’s easy to imagine finding kindred spirits.
Oh, I have to tell you about the museum we visited. It was filled with period pieces from the early 1900’s. That was interesting and all but there was a group of Japanese women touring ahead of us. Pamelasan gave them a very animated explanation of each room. The ladies were so intent, inspecting everything, touching every picture oohing and ahhing. Matthew and I had to leave half way through for the bathroom (which turned out to be filled with Japanese ladies who I don’t think like to close the toilet stall doors) so Bob and Rebecca waited for our return. As they were in one room a group a Japanese women came through and Bob thought they were so taken that they were touring again. But no, it was another bus load. There must have been 100 Japanese woman, 1 Japanese man and us touring at that time.
A real highlight of the day came when we found a British fish and chips restaurant that offered gluten free fried meal. No extra charge even! We ordered family style, an assortment of fried fish and then decided to try mashed peas just the fun of it. The fish was absolutely delicious. Matthew was so happy to be able to eat it, he loved it! The mashed peas were another story. They tasted like someone took dried peas, cooked them most of the way, then mashed them. No salt, no butter, nothing to give them any zip, except the chunky uncooked pieces… Those Brits, not very imaginative, at least with their peas. 
Matthew’s first plate. Yum…well, except for those peas.

Before heading back to the hotel we visited the remnants of a pre-revolutionary fort. It was built by the English, taken over by the French and then retaken by the Brits. We also learned about the Acadians, who are not local Native Americans (or First Nation people, as they are called here). But the Acadians were pilgrims who landed in this area, figured out how to work the delta lands and then were deported during all that fighting. Many ended up in Louisiana—you know their relatives, the Cajuns. Oh, now it all makes sense, doesn’t it? Acadians—Cajuns…even sounds similar. I remembered from history that the Cajuns were French settlers now we know where they originated. We’re going to have to read up on them now.

Here’s my observation for the day. It seems legal for people to ride their ATV’s across the freeways. Yes, interstate big divided highways. We watched some riding in the median just zooming along and others waiting to cross the road headed to a trail on the far side. I also saw a sign indicating the same for snow mobile crossing. Rules are not the same here.
So, when you’re in Canada what do you call Canadian bacon? I don’t actually have the answer. But we did find a pizza place where we could get Hawaiian pizza and it was topped with Canadian Ham. In any case, Matthew again got a delicious gluten free meal. I don’t think Canadians are especially more aware of Celiac’s but maybe they are. Maybe it’s more prevalent here. Several of the gf foods we use are made in Canada. 

More than enough for one day. Tomorrow we are spending the day along the coast and hopefully will see the super high tides of the Bay of Fundy.

Day 3.5 (Pictures)

I forgot I was going to share more pictures… here are some for your perusal.

This is a super low ceiling in the parking garage.
At Bunker Hill
Check out the blue sky! At the entrance to New Brunswick.

No so sure about eating mussels.
Seafood salad and a ton of french fries–what a dinner!
Rebecca looking for just the right shot.

Old school with the map or modern technology with the gps?
The map is winning.

No moose sighting yet, but we did see 2 deer.

Day 3—What a Difference a Day Makes!

We woke to beautiful sunshine! Not sure how early the sun actually comes up but when my eyes opened at 5 it was already bright daylight. 
Today’s plan was to get to far North East New Brunswick, well over 8 hours of driving time.
We were immediately in Maine and for this part of the trip sticking to the interstate. Thankfully, my mom mentioned the toll roads so part of my purse weight is the stash of quarters I brought along. Of course, they take greenbacks too…and several of them at each stop. 
Such a difference in traffic today. Yesterday as we tried to get out of town there was some kind of traffic problem and we drove less than 10mph for at least an hour. Bleck. Hopefully, it was actually a problem because I would pull my hair out to drive in such traffic every day. 
Oh, speaking of driving. Here’s today’s helpful hint. Do not buy a new GPS the week before leaving on vacation to a strange town. We do not think learning how the GPS works is a very smart idea, especially in Boston. I mean really, how many times can one drive the block trying to find the right turn before going crazy? It doesn’t help that Bob asks me questions about things beyond the current picture on the screen. (He has solved this problem by buying a new road atlas…and this one shows all the Walmart stores along the way 🙂 ).
How many pictures of flowers should I take??
As soon as we left the coast of Maine (like 5 minutes into the drive) it became very rural.  Lots and lots of trees, of many varieties. The sides of the road are filled with purple lupines, yellow and white daisies and some pretty pink flowers. This is the head of the Appalachian Trail with lots of hills and even an occasional mountain off to the west. 
Some mountain to the West in Maine… no one remembers the name already.
We took advantage of the easier driving and listened to some old radio dramas and then everyone thought we should listen to the audio version of Anne of Green Gables. Since I just watched the movie Saturday I can tell you the story seems to match the movie pretty close. Lucy Maud Montgomery was a much better writer than I. She has such colorful writing.
Oh, Canada! (I would sing it for you but those are the only words I know.)
New Brunswick is just as beautiful as we imagined. Still lots and lots of trees but there are more clearings and not as many swamps and bogs. It seems like there is also lot more farming here. We turned on the radio to hear French programming. There must be many moose here, though we have not seen any. The fences along the freeway have one way gates so errant moose can find their way back to safety. Rebecca wants to know how hard it is to teach the moose about the gates.
We are staying in Moncton, NB. It appears to be a moderate sized city, even has a Walmart. I’m not sure why it’s big except it seems to be at the crossroads for Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Western Canada. There are a lot of French speaking people here. A lot. 
Fine Dining
For our first night treat we found a small restaurant where we could sit on the enclosed patio at the bay.  For fun we ordered mussels. Matthew did not want to eat one but after he finally tried, he thought they were pretty tasty. Rebecca was not so sure. But we all enjoyed our seafood dinner!
The hotel has a very warm Jacuzzi which really helped everyone to relax and sleep well.
We’re off to Prince Edward Island! Matthew is excited to see Anne’s house. He liked the movie and is very attentive as we are listening to the audio book. Don’t ask me how he picks his likes and dislikes. 
More tomorrow!

Day 2—A Rainy Day in Bean Town

Grounds of the Kennedy Library
Back in the planning stages we talked about a contingency plan for rainy days. Good thing we did, as our first day in Boston we woke to rain, rain, and more rain.  Mixed, of course, with fog. But there are many things to see in this historic area so we just changed things around and visited the JFK Library. Don’t turn up your nose at this… The presidential libraries are anything but boring. They are little glimpses into history during the period of the president. The Kennedy library was filled with memorabilia from the 60’s. Transistor radios, the first electric typewriters, giant television cameras (like the stuff in your attic). There were also rooms dedicated to different parts of JFK’s life. We liked the PT109 room and learned that had it not been for a trustworthy native carrying a message carved onto a coconut that JFK and his shipmates might not have been rescued after their boat was sunk. (I know, you history buffs probably already knew this but I didn’t.)  We also watched the end of Kennedy’s life and the funeral. Can’t imagine the pain of the country during that time. 
The important thing to take from our morning is that if you have a chance to visit a presidential library you should go. Use those brain cells.
USS Constitution (remember it’s nickname? you learned this in 5th grade… Old Ironsides!)
Since it was still raining we visited the USS Constitution, the oldest continuous active duty military ship in the US. Because it’s still part of the Fleet it is kept in pristine shape and taken out to see annually. It must be beautiful to see sailing. We were amazed that it took 150 men to man the sails and nearly as many to operate the 50 canons on board. All fed by 2 cooks. One for the captain and one for the crew.  Some things don’t change.
Even though the rain hadn’t stopped we could see the Bunker Hill monument from the shipyard. The raincoats I’d packed were left in the car but we braved the elements and hiked up hill and to the monument. Matthew was fine because he had his new sailor hat and held the umbrella close to his head. Bob and Rebecca fought over the other umbrella. The good news is, we didn’t melt. The view from Bunker Hill was not as it was during the Revolution. Lots of high rises and modern stuff made it a challenge to imagine. But maybe it wasn’t as rural as I expected. One two story brick building across the street from the monument had a 1781 established sign.
At the TOP of the Bunker Hill Monument. Yes, that is sweat pouring off us.
So if you go to Bunker Hill, pray for a cool rainy day. Because you’ll want to climb up the stairs to the top of the monument. All 294 stairs. I counted every one. All inside a skinny block circular building. All steep. And when you get to the very tip top there is a grate over the hole that goes all the way down to the ground. Trust me, it’s very scary. But just tell yourself, if Teresa managed to drag herself all the way up then surely you can. I put it on my list of accomplishments. Though, I’m not sure I actually looked out the windows once there.
By then we had used up nearly the whole day and so we headed out of town. Our goal was to get as far as possible because we Day 3 is going to be 8 hours of driving. More fun tomorrow.
Au revoir. (Practicing my French for Canada)

PS I almost forgot to share the most funny thing. At the JFK Library we were in a representation of the Oval Office and suddenly Matthew stopped. He was very intent and I couldn’t figure out why until I actually looked at what he was looking at. Here’s a picture.
Did you guess? It’s the famous Resolute Desk, gift from England. And of course, you saw it on National Treasure. So, sure now you can guess what Matthew bought in the gift shop. Yep, his own copy of the Declaration of Independence. He’s ready for a treasure hunt.