Welcome to the East Coast of
America where we visited Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine; Stowe
in Vermont; Falmouth in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Boston. Here are
some of our memories which you might like to share.
was an area that I had long wanted to visit and Mount Desert Island with
Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain in its midst seem to have
just about everything for a five day stay. We decided on a hotel just
outside Bar Harbor called 'The Regency' which was a great place with its
own pool area overlooking the sea. It belonged to the Holiday Inn chain
and we found the room to be fine and the breakfast very reasonable,
especially when feeding two hungry teenagers. It was lovely hot weather,
although it did get somewhat humid at times, but we had air conditioning
so no-one was worried.
The hotel had its own jetty and they were supposed to have a boat there
that would take you the short journey into town, but this was not
available while we were there so we just drove down and hoped that we
would find a parking space eventually! We were usually lucky if we went
early enough but going in at night could be risky regarding parking
On the second day we took a walk down to the University of the Atlantic
as there was to be a craft show. This worked out really well as I
managed to get most of my gifts there, and lovely they were too. One
stall selling glass wind-chimes had me hooked! I was worried about
getting them back to the U.K. undamaged but the lady there wrapped them
up so well in tissue and cardboard that I am happy to say they survived
intact. I have already passed a wind-chime on to my eldest daughter who
thinks it is beautiful.
we decided to go into town and have a peek at all the gift shops and the
harbour. We wanted to book the Whale watching Boat for the next day and
while we were there we happened to see this brightly coloured trolley bus
which was just setting off for a one hour tour of Acadia National Park,
so on we hopped. The driver and tour guide told us that Acadia National
Park is one of the smallest in the U.S.A. but it is also one of the most
frequently visited. He said that Cadillac Mountain was the highest point
on the whole east coast! Eagle Lake is also very pretty, especially when
viewed from Cadillac Mountain, as we were about to find out.
took us up along Paradise Hill and we looked out over Frenchman Bay.
When we reached the top of Cadillac Mountain we had a fifteen minute
stop for sight-seeing and photographs. Here is Ben and Robyn enjoying
the view. It really was spectacular. There were lots of other tourists
up there with us and I was glad we took the bus as parking was tight. On
the way down our guide told us that Mount Desert Island was discovered
in 1604 by Samuel de Champlain. Apparently they had a big fire here in
1947 and a lot of the vegetation was destroyed. It looks very green now
As you can
see Robyn really enjoyed it up here but fifteen minutes wasn't long
enough so we vowed we would come back with the car and see more of this
lovely park. The island you can see to the right of her in the distance
is called 'Thrumcap Island'. The loop road that goes around the park is mostly one way
so we would have to plan our stops in advance as the whole island takes
about an hour to drive around.
The town of
Bar Harbor proved to be very pretty and we spent most evenings there
eating or going to the 'Art Deco' cinema which had tables upstairs where
you could put your popcorn, beer and feet! We watched a film there
called 'Evolution' which was really funny. The cinema was just like the
ones we have in G.B. but I suppose it was quaint for America. Bar Harbor
was where the rich and famous built their summer homes at the beginning
of the 20th century and it certainly is pretty with its old wooden
They have a great
array of restaurants too where you can eat almost anything. We had a
fish meal in 'Bunnies' one night where I had the works; clam chowder
a whole lobster all to myself.
On another occasion we ate Italian and on the last night we ate
Thai. It was a very good menu and demanded
scrutiny so out came the glasses!
Robyn and Ben
liked the food so much that they were complaining of over-eating all the
way back to the hotel, but what's new about that. We always seem to
over-eat when we visit America and then we starve ourselves when we get
home. Its all part of being on holiday as far as I can tell and no one
suffers in the long run. Perhaps if we lived in the U.S.A. it would be a
Now we come to the Whale watching trip and for anyone who has not done
this yet, put it top on your list of things to do. Perhaps we were just
lucky on the day, but we saw a finback 'breach', that is, it jumped
right out of the water straight ahead of our boat!
It was a fantastic
trip. We booked to go on The Royal Miss Belmar which was only built in
2000. It was therefore the newest and fastest whale watcher in Maine. We
were told ahead of time that it gets really cold out there on the ocean
so we dressed up in jeans and fleeces, which was really uncomfortable on
land at in was about 85 that day and very humid. Robyn was nearly
passing out with the heat. However, we needed that extra protection as
you can actually feel the temperature drop at one point. Its a bit like
hitting a wall of ice.
The boats go
out into Frenchman Bay between two islands called 'Sheep Porcupine
Island' to the left and 'Burnt Porcupine Island' to the right. After
that its the Atlantic Ocean all the way. You can buy your tickets at the
Golden Anchor which is right next door to the jetty, but we were lucky
as we had someone visit our hotel the day before and so we acquired ours
windy on the ocean that if you didn't have your hair tied back you would get
'whiplash'! Robyn was sensible, but she had fun too. We stood at the
front of the boat just in front of the Captains cabin and clung onto the
rail. It was like being on a giant roller coaster at one point and the
twins loved it! You had to be careful about water coming in on the side
of the ship and two poor souls paid the price for their 'ringside
seats'. We saw lots of finbacks and the guide was really good,
explaining to us all about their diving patterns and terminal dives etc.
It lasted for about three hours in all and when we returned we were
tired, wet and sticky from all that salt, but very glad we went
next day we were ready to see the rest of Mount Desert Island so off we
set with three 'must see' destinations in mind. First stop was to be
Thunder hole which we had heard so much about; secondly we wanted to
take a walk on Sand Beach and thirdly we wanted to take a look at the
Nature Centre at Sieur de Monts where they had the Abbe Museum which
showed how Native Americans in these parts lived all those years ago.
Anything else we managed to fit in would be considered a plus as far as
we were concerned!
was Sand Beach, a very pretty area and quite deserted. We took pictures
and decided to move on to our next destination which would
hopefully have an advice centre which sold maps and drinks. It had
turned out to be a very hot day and we were already thirsty!
We parked up
at the Shoreline Centre which had just about everything; maps, drinks,
toilets, gifts, walking sticks with fancy handles, toilets. However
there was no plumbing and no electricity so the toilets were just seats
over sandboxes and the drinks were warm! But never-mind, we were happy
just to find a parking space! Luckily 'Thunder Hole' was just across the
road so all we had to do was walk down some steps to see this marvel.
However, what we didn't know was that it only really 'thunders' when the
tide is right. They have a chart outside the advice centre that tells
you what time the tide is right each day, but on this occasion it was to
be at 3.45 in the afternoon, so unless we wanted to come back then we
had to make do with the softer 'booms' we heard coming from the cavern
under the rock.
decided that we would take some pictures anyway so Robyn and Ben climbed
on the top of 'Thunder Hole' and posed for me. They were getting quite
used to doing this by now as I had to have an assortment of pictures for
the web page I would be writing. Also, it was difficult to know what the
pictures would turn out like as I just had a regular camera and not the
digital camera that Dan usually brings along. He also has to bring along
the laptop to download all the pictures we take and as that was not
possible the camera had to stay at home as well. I was just keeping my
fingers crossed that some of the pictures would be ok.
presumably what Thunder Hole would have looked like at 3.45 pm, but we
didn't stay around long enough to see, we just brought the postcard and
imagined the thunder.
lovely old beach area was along Ocean Drive. The rocks were very large
and the rock formations were unusual as well. You get an appreciation of
how rugged the coast line is along this part of the bay.
We never did get round to visiting the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts as
the whole Loop road is one way and we had flown past it on entering the
park not knowing it was so close to the entrance. We therefore took a
leisurely drive around the rest of Mount Desert Island and then headed
back to our hotel for some good old fashioned sun bathing around the
lovely pool. This was the only day on the whole holiday that we ate
lunch. There was a sort of Tiki hut by the pool and we could smell the
food being cooked. However, it smelled much better than it tasted and
most of our 'sandwiches' went into the nearest bin! That was a shame
because their breakfasts were wonderful. That night we took a few last
pictures and said our goodbye's to Bar Harbor. Tomorrow we would be traveling
to Stowe, Vermont and it was to be a very long journey, the longest of
the whole vacation, so we needed to get some well earned rest.
It proved to be a very long, but very scenic drive to
but Ben navigated really well and we stopped of for breakfast at Denny's
on the way. As always, we ordered too much and ended up leaving half of
it. Not me though, I found out about the portions at Denny's a long time
ago, hence an omlette and a coffee sufficed. We passed a sign which said
'Rome' which is where Paul and Patty Lynch live. We met them this Easter
in the Caribbean but I did not have their address so we couldn't stop,
and anyway, we had a very tight schedule. I wanted to get to Stowe
before dark as the day had started badly and we had been driving in rain
for quite a while.
Our destination was to the The Golden Eagle Resort which was situated
right at the beginning of the mountain road leading eventually to Mount
Mansfield. This proved to be a very pretty area in the summertime, but
it must have also been fabulous as a ski resort during the winter. The
resort had just about everything you could need for a relaxing five
nights; an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, a large Jacuzzi, a gym,
tennis court and cafe which served breakfast each morning. Here I tried
'Eggs Benedict'..........very yummy! The only down side to this resort
was the accommodation we had hired was across the busy mountain road so
we were not really 'on site' so to speak.
shows Robyn and I going across to the gym for a quick work out. You can
see the road behind us. The accommodation, which was a
two bedroom flat, was very roomy but also quite dark and smelly. At
first I thought that it was damp or dusty. It took me a while to realise
that the smell was coming from the open fireplace. I guess the chimney
needed sweeping as the smell of soot was really strong! However, it was
nice to have all that space to ourselves and after unpacking off we went
to explore the resort. It was all very peaceful and I wondered where all
the other tourists were, but this was not their peak season so I guess
any ski resort during the summer months is quiet. It suited us fine!
This is the lovely indoor pool which was
This is the restaurant area where we ate
breakfast most mornings.
We ate at the English Inn called Mr. Pickwick's
on the first night and
the food was splendid. Here we planned our strategy for the next four
days. We decided that keep fit was in order so every morning before
breakfast we would use the gym. Part of our day would also involve
swimming in both pools and then relaxing in the Jacuzzi. Ben and I
booked tennis for each afternoon and Robyn hired videos to keep her
We had one plan that was a must, and that was to visit the
and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory just up the road at Waterbury. They had
factory tours where you get to see the ice cream being made and hear a
bit about the history of the place and then you get to taste the new
flavours. We were up for doing it the next day! Robyn has always loved
Ben and Jerry's Ice cream but I must admit it has always been a bit too
adventurous for me.
started the tour Robyn and Ben posed in front of a large map that plots
the history of this Ice Cream Factory. I didn't know that much of their
profit goes back into the local community. They even have a Ben and
Its a great
place to visit with lots going on inside and outside the factory. When
we were on the tour the guide told us that each employee takes home
three litre cartons of ice cream a day. He also said that market
research has shown that the favourite time to eat ice cream is when
watching a movie. I guess the employees must watch lots of movies!
While we were there we just happened to notice a place to put smiling,
happy faces. This was after we had sampled the goods of course.
And here you see us doing just that!
Sadly we said
goodbye to Ben and Jerry's and made our way back to Stowe. We had some
serious relaxing to catch up on, and then there was always tennis. We
had decided that tonight we would dine on Mexican fare so it was to be a
restaurant further up the mountain road called Miguel's.
We needed heating up after all that cold ice cream, but first we wanted
to go to the small local cinema to see Planet of the Apes which I had
seen originally starring Charlton Heston but which the twins had never
seen or heard of!
The one thing that you could always be sure of in Stowe was the fact
that you would never go hungry. They have so many restaurants, and so
much variation that's its hard to choose. We tried a place called
'Whiskers' one night and the meals were huge, far too big for one person.
It was an old house that was sort of like an old bric a brac shop with
lots of memorabilia and such like. Lots of fun. We also had breakfast
one day at the Dutch Pancake
Cafe which was situated at the Grey Fox Inn just up the road from
our accommodation. You could have sweet or savory pancakes and they were
also rather big, a bit too big for breakfast but then we were on holiday
and this was America, right!
went into town one day for shopping and sightseeing. This picture shows
Stowe Church at 20 degrees below!!!!! I don't think we will be coming
back to visit in the winter-time! It was a nice place to spend a few
hours just wandering around buying gifts and such, but we had decided
that we would go exploring for the rest of the day and headed in the
general direction of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. We
had decided to take the Gondola to the top and partake in some luncheon!
Well that was the plan anyway.
On the way we
passed this pretty covered bridge as stopped to investigate. It is
called 'Emily's' bridge, but is also known as Stowe Hollow or Gold
Brook. We discovered that there are three different legends attached to
this bridge. Firstly, it was thought that in the 1800's a girl called
Emily was jilted and she hung herself from the bridge. Another story
from 1925 goes like this; Emily fell in love with Donald and then got
pregnant. Donald did not want to marry so he hung himself from the
bridge. Shortly after giving birth to her twins Emily followed suite.
Yet another story says that a girl called Emily, while on her way to her
wedding, was thrown off her horse at the bridge and died. In any case,
the bridge is supposedly haunted by no other than, you guessed it,
Well, we got to Mount Mansfield and we took the gondola. Ben and Robyn
thought it was fun.
We ate lunch at the 'Cliff House' restaurant at the top and then wandered around for a
bit. Not only is Mount Mansfield the highest peak in Vermont, it is also
the largest of two alpine ecosystems.
top you can, on a clear day, view Lake Champlain, the White and Green
Mountains and also Mont Royal in Quebec. The lower forests are
made up of northern hardwoods such as maples, beeches and birch. Indeed,
maple syrup seemed to be in abundance in all the restaurants we visited.
As you climb higher you enter what is known as a 'transition zone' which
is home to hardwoods and evergreens. Near the summit, the forest is
primarily balsam, fir and spruce. We hadn't come to hike, only to view
and presently we descended via the gondola and back to the resort for
some swimming and sunning, or video watching as the case may be.
a very nice garden area to the back and side of the apartment but it
overlooked a storage area which was busy at times with guys in hard hats
stowing large containers. It wasn't very noisy but it did spoil the
ambiance somewhat. This garden area belonged to the house next door
which was vacant for most of the time we were there. I did see a guy
lopping branches from a tree one day, but apart from that, there was no
sign of life. In fact, it was so quiet around here that the twins
visited the cinema again while I stayed in to read my book.
On another occasion we visited the Von Trapp Lodge which was also just a
short drive up the mountain road. Maria Von Trapp was the inspiration
for the musical 'The Sound of Music'. She fled from her native Austria
during the Nazi era and settled in Stowe because it reminded her of her
native homeland so much. Well, it certainly was beautiful up there in
the rolling hills. This picture of the Von Trapp family was taken in
Stowe in 1945.
We took a horse and cart ride around the estate which
was pleasant. The original Lodge evolved from the family home that was
built in 1942. After Baron Georg von Trapp died in 1947 the family
decided to take in visitors to help ends meet. Over the years various
wings were added to accommodate more and more visitors but then in 1980
disaster struck and the lodge was destroyed by a fire. The new Lodge was
completed in 1984 and is now a thriving guest house.
This is what the old lodge looked like.
This is part of the new lodge.
It really is a lovely place and very European.
One morning we
decided to drive into Burlington for some designer shopping! Lake
Champlain also looked interesting so off we set. The town was quite
disappointing as it did not live up to the reputation in the tourist
books. We did manage to buy some trousers for Robyn and a belt for Ben
though. We also found a nice Art shop with decent postcards like this
one which shows a water-colour of the Burlington skyline by artist
Annelein Beukenkamp. I had better luck in Stowe with purchases and found
a small gallery who were showing works from local artists. These two
prints below are by the artist Kathi Kimball who lives in St Albans,
This is called 'Enjoying the Good Life.'
This is called 'The East Illumination'
We had a great time in Vermont but now it was time
to head for Cape Cod, our third destination in New England. So once
again we hit the road for a more leisurely drive this time as it was
nearly all motorway and Ben was a star at navigation by now. We were
ready for some fun at the cape!
The drive to Cape Cod was uneventful and Ben kept up entertained by
his 'Ali G' impersonations for most of the way. Went crossed over the
Bourne Bridge in the early afternoon and found our next destination
without too much trouble. We were staying at the Sea
Crest Resort which proved be be further outside the town of
Falmouth than we anticipated.
It was nice, nevertheless, as it was situated on the Old Silver Beach
and had lots of amenities to offer like swimming pool, beachside
location, gym, restaurant and tennis courts. All of which we took
advantage of during our stay. The room was adequate for our needs and
it was a very big complex as we were to find out. They hold lots of
wedding receptions here and also have a conference centre. Robyn and
Ben went for a look around and booked us into the restaurant for
dinner that night. They also found out that you had to be sixteen to
use the gym, even if you were accompanied by an adult, so that put an
end to our keep-fit regime for the rest of the holiday!
The town of Falmouth proved to be about a twenty minute
drive away and was nice. We went in on a few occasions to eat, shop
and wander around. One good place where the food was good and the
prices reasonable was the Irish Pub and Restaurant called Liam
served a varied menu and had a good children's selection as I can
recall. I had mussels here while Robyn had BBQ ribs and Ben had pasta.
It was yummy and not a Guinness in sight, unless you ordered one that
is. Another place we visited was a breakfast cafe where they had lots
of postcards up from clients all over the world. We took down their
address so we could also send them a postcard but then mislaid it. If
anyone out there knows what it is I would be grateful. They were
situated just across the road from what I took to be the town hall and
an amusement arcade with real wooden skittle bowling. We visited this
one wet afternoon and had lots of fun.
Robyn can testify to that! We also found a store called 'Army and Navy'
which had just about everything you could need in terms of outdoor
clothing. It was good for spending a wet couple of hours in as there
wasn't much else to do in Falmouth when it rained. We always seemed to
be stuck in traffic on the Cape, but where all these cars were going
to remains a mystery. There were not that many people around, only
cars! Even when we decided to drive along scenic route 6A from
Sandwich to Orleans, all we saw were cars, cars and more cars. The
Cape was a strange place, it must get deserted during the winter
months. One thing we did find was that it took much longer to drive
anywhere here and never once did we get to visit 'the tip'. The
nearest we ever got was Eastham and that took us a good four hours
or twice on our journeys up and down the Cape we crossed the Mashpee
River. This is a very pretty natural area with lots of wildlife. We
saw lots of fishermen on the banks. Fishing however, is not our forte
and we always seemed to busy looking at other things on the cape to
stop here and relax for a while. I remember one evening trying to find
the town band that was supposed to be playing in the town park. Well,
we found the town park but alas, no band. Robyn and Ben were not
worried about this as they had brought their own music from England
along and we had rigged up two small computer speakers to a portable
C.D. player in the hotel room so they had music whenever they wanted.
I however, had to make do with the car and the town band, if only I
could find them! The town green was pretty nevertheless.
We never did find the band though. Perhaps it was just as well because
that would have meant driving back in the dark. and I didn't like that
one little bit. I think I lost my night vision about five holidays
So what did I learn about this lovely New England town? Well, it seems
a settlement was established here in the 1660's by those of the Quaker
persuasion. However, by the late 1680's lots of other people with
different persuasions were living here too and by the 1800's it was a
major whaling port as there was big money to be made in this trade.
For example, you could make 300 dollars in those days just for one
pound of 'Ambergris', a wax like substance collected from the
intestines of sperm whales!
Another nice area close by was the town of Woods Hole
where they have an Institute of Oceanography and some great fish
restaurants. I read somewhere that Penzance Point, which is found in
Woods Hole, was home to the Pacific Guano Works in the 1800's. Ships
from here used to go out and collect seabird's droppings and bring
them back to be made into fertilizer. This area is now home to lots of
luxury summer retreats of the rich and famous. Where there's muck
there's money I guess! Here
is Ben having a great feast at a quaint fish restaurant that looked
out across the harbour. I think we ate Giant Prawns cooked in garlic
on this occasion. Whatever it was, I remember it was really good. We
drove back in the dark that night down small unlit lanes. It always
seemed longer on the way back because of all the one way systems they
had there. One night we would find the hotel in ten minutes, another
night it would take us twenty. There were very few signposts either so
it became somewhat of a rush most evenings to get back before it was
dark, as as this was about 8pm then dinner had to be eaten fast!
One day we decided to visit the harbour area and search
out the Nobska Lighthouse on Vineyard Sound. It had been raining hard
all morning and we had driven down to the new Falmouth shopping mall
to get out of the wet, however, it was only partially constructed and
like all other malls in the U.S.A. you needed your car to drive from
one lot to another. Not good for rainy days. We did manage to find a
T.K. Maxx though so shopping ensued, followed by a trip to Burger King
as the twins were hungry again! Later we found the harbour area but it
was deserted. I got the twins to pose anyway!
Its amazing what a trip to Burger King will
do for bored, wet teenagers!
Out came the smiles.
We drove on to find the Nobska Lighthouse. New England
is famous for its array of lighthouses and you can buy just about any
type of memorabilia you want showing either one or a host of them. We
had seen the one in Bass Harbor perched high on the cliff face and I
also remember visiting one somewhere else along the Cape called the
Nauset Light. Well, we now added the Nobska Lighthouse to our list.
Here they all are below.
Bass Harbor Light
This lighthouse is found in Acadia National Park which is
on Mount Desert Island, Maine. It was built in 1858 and
overlooks Somes Sound and the Cranberry Islands. It is now a
This lighthouse lies between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard
Sound, Falmouth and overlooks the Nantucket Sound. The
original light was built in 1829 but this one dates from 1876.
It was originally called 'Nobsque' and is on the National
Register of Historic Places.
This lighthouse is the most photographed of all the lights
on the Cape. It is found in Eastham and in 1996 was moved
because coastal erosion threatened to topple it into the sea.
It was originally one of a set of three called the 'Three
Sisters' and completed in 1838. It is also on the National
Register of Historic Places.
our last day at the Cape we decided to chill out on the beautiful
silver beach and make the most of the calming atmosphere of sun sea
and sand between our toes for tomorrow we would be heading back
towards Boston for our last stop before we flew back to the U.K. Here
is Robyn making the most of the beautiful weather. We swam in the sea
and jumped the waves along with all the other tourists and then packed
our bags ready for our final destination, Boston by the sea! We
decided that as the journey was to be the shortest so far we would
stop off at Historic Plymouth and visit the 'Plimoth
Plantation' on the way there. It was a good plan, now we just
needed some organisation regarding packing, rising and paying the bill
Our day at Plimoth Plantation turned out great apart
from the slow crawl of traffic along the motorway and one nasty
accident in which we were not involved that goodness. At Plimoth
Plantation they have a Pilgrim Village set up as it would have been in
1627 with men and women playing the part of villagers of that period.
They also have Hobbamock's Homesite which is based on how the
Wampanoag Native Indians lived. The have a craft centre showing how
things were made and if you want to you can drive two miles into
Plymouth to see a Mayflower II, but as we had seen Mayflower I in
Plymouth, Devon, U.K. we thought we would give that a miss and just 'do;
the village, homesite, gift shop and cafe of course! It was a lot of
fun and we all had a good time as you can see below.
One of the reconstructed houses.
Sitting in a porch which was covered with
By the wooden palisade surrounding the
The only mosquito around is printed on the T
This was a replica of the kiln used to fire
pots and suchlike.
This Native American is making a 'mishoon'
Now onto Boston where
we had decided to park the car in a car park near the hotel and just
leave it there until it was time to drive to the airport. All I had to
do now was find the right street! I was nervous about driving in a city
the size of Boston as I had read someone's web page the night before we
started our vacation and it most definitely said that driving in Boston
was a nightmare. Also what didn't help is that Boston is having the 'big
dig' at the moment and the entrance to our hotel was on a street that
was now one way because of all the bulldozers being parked up on the
other side of the road.
Eeeek. I think we were just about to
find out if this had been a good idea or not.
Well, we made it but I did make one little tiny
mistake, but no harm done. We got our bags upstairs and then off I went
to park the car which proved to be easy as it was just two blocks up the
one way street. There it stayed for the next two days, believe me. We
were staying at the Boston Harborside Inn
which was just under the old
corn exchange which is a very distinctive building with a clock face on
top. A bit like Big Ben but not on such a grand scale. This sketch
doesn't do it justice. We had a suite which was great for the three of
us, but the noise from the street was terrible, especially early in the
morning as the workmen started digging around 5.30am and went on until
6pm. No-one could sleep in the pull out settee in this room so we all
squashed together in the bedroom, Ben having his own pull out bed and
Robyn and I sharing. Needless to say, no-one got a lot of sleep during
our time in Boston, but it was fun to do anyway and we were very close
to Quincy Market which was always buzzing with shoppers, restaurant
crowds and buskers of all description. One night we sat outside a coffee
shop after dinner in Little Italy and listened to a guy playing violin.
Also in the crowd were men with hard hats who had just finished work,
groups of children, lots of Japanese tourists and others just generally
enjoying themselves. That's what I like about America, the diversity and
the casual way of life.
Boston to be a great city for lots of different reasons. During the day
there is so much to see and do, but the buildings really come alive at
night and they are so pretty when all lit up. This is a picture of
me relaxing inside our
hotel. We were on the second floor facing out towards the street so we
could people watch when we wanted to. It was very centrally placed to do
the Freedom Trail and the Harbor Tour so we did both on the same day.
The Freedom trail we did by trolley bus because you can get on and off
all day on the same ticket. This proved to be a good idea as we wanted
to visit the U.S.S. Constitution or 'Old Ironsides' as she is lovingly
known. She can be found in her permanent dock in Charlestown which was
on the other side of the harbour to us, so the tickets worked out
well. We would also visit The Bunker Hill Monument as Ben wanted to
climb to the top of this 221 foot granite tower, Faneuil Hall and Boston
Park where we wanted to take a ride on the Swan Boats. We set off on a
very hot day, the weather forecast had promised it to be in the 90's!
up was U.S.S. Constitution so we caught the trolley bus to the
required stop and got off to stand in line for the full tour of this
lovely old ship which is still in service today. She has the nickname
of 'Old Ironsides' because she has such thick sides that cannon balls
bounced off her planking during the war with the British. She remains
undefeated and has been in forty historic battles. She is a living
museum of Naval History and every year on the 4th July she is rigged
up with decorative flags and towed out into Boston Harbour where she
lets off her cannons and is then turned around and brought back to her
permanent dock. I found an interesting page all to do with the
'saving' of this great warship when I was looking for some art from
in 1906, an artist called Edward Pape was very instrumental is saving
this ship from destruction when it was decided that it would be taken
out to sea and used as a target. His petition, which can be seen here,
was handed to Congress and 'Old Ironsides' was saved. This petition
was signed by the Governor and almost all the living
ex-Governors of the Commonwealth, seventy mayors and ex-Mayors, by
twenty five survivors of the crew and a host of others, including
thirty thousand citizens of the Commonwealth. The petition measured
one hundred and seventy feet long and the names were signed in nine
and ten abreast! Whew, that ship must have been the pride of Boston
and what a blessing it was saved for future generations. We had a
great time onboard and found out that another famous Bostonian, namely
Paul Revere, had furnished the copper bolts and spikes for the sum of
$3,820.33 by a process known only to him.
Here are Robyn and Ben on the Spar deck under the mizzen mast awning.
They are leaning on one of the gun carriages and you can just see
another to the right of them. It was a very interesting tour and we
found out lots of facts. Here are some of them.
After two unsuccessful attempts, Old Ironsides, the 'Pride of the
American Navy', was launched on October 21st 1787 but only a few
people were present because on the previous first attempt she slid
only eight feet down the ramp and disappointed hundreds of spectators
who had lined the shore on Noddle's Island which is now East Boston.
The second previous attempt was also a failure and the Constitution
was by now considered an 'ill fated ship'! Just shows you its silly to
This is Captain Isaac Hull. In 1812 when the
United States was at war with the British U.S.S. Constitution
engaged H.M.S. Guerriere. Whilst alongside, Captain Hull is
reported to have said to his gunners, "Now boys, pour it
into them!" The story them goes on to say that cannon
from the Guerriere made no impression on the sides of the
Constitution and one of the British sailors shouted,
"Huzza! Her sides are made of iron!" Hence the
nickname 'Old Ironsides' was born.
The guns found on the spar deck or top
deck are carronades that fire a 32 pound solid shot out
to a killing range of 400 yards. The original gun carriages
were made by Ephraim Thayer whose shop was in the South End,
Boston. Immediately under the Spar deck is the Gun deck and
here you will find thirty 20-pounder long guns. They weigh
about three and one quarter tons each and their shot can
pierce twenty inches of wood at 1000 yards. Each gun was given
a name by the original crew and these can be seen over the
gun-ports. On a quiet day at sea the areas between the guns
was used for repair and general maintenance of the ships items
such as ropes, rigging and sail mending.
This is the anchor capstan where seventy to
seventy five men heaved round on bars which were placed in the
sockets to hoist the 5300 pound anchor. Manpower on U.S.S.
Constitution was frugal as I remember reading that on Nelson's
flagship, H.M.S. Invincible, they needed three hundred men to
do the same task, but that had been earlier in the century and
ship building had moved on a bit since then. Nevertheless, it
is something to be said for the skill of designer of the
Constitution, Joshua Humphreys.
After this we walked across to the Bunker Hill Monument
as Ben was determined to climb to the top of this. The monument marks
the centre of the Battle of Bunker Hill which took place on June 17th
This 221 foot granite tower contains a spiral staircase to the
top but there is only a small viewing window at the top and as it was
already 95 degrees Ben was going to get very hot and sticky climbing
all those stairs!
enough, he came down about twenty minutes later and his T shirt was so
wet you could have wrung it out!. Robyn and I had stayed below in the
visitors centre reading all about the battles, as there were more than
one and looking at the toy soldiers who were deployed on various
battle scenes in glass cages. Ben said that he didn't really get to
look out of the tiny viewing window at the top as there was a school
party up there and all the kids were clambering around trying to see
out. He decided to come down again in search of cool air and water! He
can't remember just how many stairs there were to the top but the tour
bus guide said it was somewhere in the region of two hundred and
then took the walk back to the trolley bus stop and waited for it to
arrive. We were all wearing stickers like the one shown here so
it would be easy for the drivers to spot their customers. This worked
out fine and our next stop was to be the park area as we were going to
take a Swan boat ride on the lake.
Ben stares across the lake at the Swan
Boats. Little did we know what was in store. It all looked so
No sooner had we boarded the boat than a
load of small kids got on with bagfuls of bread and then
started throwing it overboard to hundreds of ducks we fought
savagely for it. The lake was teeming with them and they tried
to hop aboard more than once.
Not only that but pigeons were
swooping down also. It was like being in the Hitchcock film
'The Birds'. Not a very pleasant experience and definitely not
something I would recommend if you are nervous about things
this we bought lemon ice sherbets and waited for the bus to go
back. Robyn was feeling too hot and sticky to go on so she went back
to the hotel and Ben and I went down to the marina intending to take
the last part of the tour which was the harbour cruise. This was our
last day and we wanted to do it all before we went back to the
U.K. It is a nice area down there which we had discovered
previously when we took a walk through the Christopher Columbus
Gardens which are very pretty and shaded from the sun by climbing
plants which grow up over a large trellised walkway.
also have a statue of the great man put up and maintained by the
Columbus Society. From here you can look out over the harbor, read,
eat lunch or just people watch. Further up in Little Italy we found a
nice harbour front restaurant called Joe's and we had good food there.
I remember their salads being very nice.
harbour tour was ok. It took us out to the Logan Airport area and then
down to see the U.S.S. Constitution again. I tried to take a few
pictures looking back to shore but they did not turn out as good as
this postcard which shows Boston Harbor in its full glory. You can
just see the high tower of the Corn Exchange with its clock face which
was the marker for our hotel. If ever we got lost we would always look
for this to regain our bearings. We
did not get to see the ship made famous by the 'Boston Tea Party'
because when we were in Cape Cod there had been a fire which started
in the small gift shop on the pier and the whole area was now closed
for the rest of the season. Ah well, such is life. I think I can
safely say that we saw quite a lot on this holiday so missing out on
one ship was to be no great hardship.
had had a really good time in Boston. It is a great city and as we
prepared to pack our cases for the journey home and work out what time
to get up to take the car back to Alamo we thought how fortunate we
were to have visited New England and seen so much variety in places
and people. New England is nice, some parts are nicer than others, but
we had been away for nearly three weeks and we were ready to go home
to 'Old England' to see friends, pets, relatives and neglected,
hard-working husbands of
So bye for now. Come back and visit our web page soon.
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