A DAD'S JOURNAL
Week 35- May 8 - 14 Week: "The Kirkwoods are Coming!"
As part of a two day goal of making it to Boston, we got Harvey back on the road early Sunday morning to drive into Connecticut. We planned ahead to meet Ted and Rosette Kayser at the church outside of Middleton that they attend while they are in the States on their furlough from Nigeria. Ted has been a missionary in Nigeria for many years and taught our friend Chinuru in a SIM seminary over there.
After church, we continued on to the Connecticut coast to the historic port town of Mystic. Settling into the RV park mid-afternoon, Brenda and I both hit the wall at the same time. Usually when one of us runs out of steam, the other encourages and takes up the slack. We both were still exhausted from New York City, and more generally depleted by the daily demands involved with our trip.
Thankfully, we got over the hump later that evening as we drove into town to celebrate Mother’s Day. We happened upon Abbott’s Rough Lobster on the bay. Brenda and I experienced our first lobster rolls and crab rolls. They are simple sandwiches made from a large scoop of crab or lobster meat on a bun. I love both crab and lobster, but don’t really enjoy working for it, so this was perfect! The kids, of course were disgusted by the stack of seafood on our plates, but endured it in deference to Mom on Mother’s Day…
At this point, I want to honor Brenda on her day. We are all so appreciative of her. Among other things, she is the trip: photographer, researcher, and tour planner; child: mediator, counselor, encourager, and nurse; and of course: Walmart Warrior. Happy Mother’s Day Bren!
We attacked another Monday with renewed vigor. Before heading out of Mystic, we visited Mystic Seaport. It is kind of a nautical version of Williamsburg. In a couple of hours, we learned about fishing/whaling industry history, wooden shipbuilding, rope making, Civil War blockade running, and more, as we hurried through the living history port town and climbed aboard the restored old boats and ships.
To “check off” Rhode Island, we left Harvey in a Park-and-Ride lot outside of Providence, and drove the van down to Newport, a tidy little town that is home to the America’s Cup yacht race. We stopped by the Tennis Hall of Fame in honor of my lifelong love of the game and drove down Bellevue Avenue, the site of many famous mansions. Too bad we had only planned Rhode Island as a drive-through state. We would have loved to spend at least a night in Newport. Instead, we returned to Harvey and finished the drive to a great RV park outside of Boston near the town of Foxboro just before dusk. New England distances sure are more compact than the West!
Our stay at Normandy Farms was designed as a treat to rejuvenate the family for the final couple of weeks of flying through our last five states. The grounds were beautiful, clean, and one of the four pools is indoors, the ultimate luxury for the kids! The next day, after schooling, as the kids were trying out the pool, the midday site of a two kids swimming with their parents set off my curiosity alarm. I had to ask if they were traveling. Indeed, the Hansen family from the Seattle area was on a similar odyssey, doing a three month loop around the country. We enjoyed a couple of shared dinners together and the kids once again relished non-adult playmates. One afternoon, the dads even took on the kids at the camp’s Happy Hollow softball diamond, and were vanquished in a hard fought battle by the Happy Hollow Five.
The whole week showered us with cool sunshine, perfect for touring. On Wednesday, we drove to the coast and visited Plymouth. The rock is unimpressive, and probably just representative of those from the area where the Pilgrims landed. It was never mentioned in early accounts. A tour of the Mayflower II, a replica made in England and sailed to the U.S. in the 50’s, was the history lesson highlight of the day. The docents where very knowledgeable and we barraged them with questions about this admirable band of people.
Thursday we used the fourth metro train system on our adventure as we ventured into Boston by subway for our introduction to the town. (Boston is the home of the first subway.) After lunch at the busy Quincy Market, we took one of those city trolley tours, a first on our adventure. While it was nice to sit for a while and get an overview of town, we were unimpressed with the driver/guide. Our chat with a city worker as we enjoyed part of the afternoon in the Boston Commons was actually more amusing. We also stopped by a town cemetery where Paul Revere and John Hancock are both buried. Funny, like his signature on the Declaration of Independence, Hancock’s monument is similarly larger than the surrounding stones.
We planned that Friday would be another day at home enjoying our sparsely populated campground before the weekend. Since the beginning of May, we have noticed that weekends at the RV parks are much more busy, a contrast from what we have generally enjoyed all year. As I drove back into camp late the same evening after grocery shopping, the campground was now full. Campfires glowing at every site, I felt like General Washington inspecting the troops at the Valley Forge encampment we had learned about in Pennsylvania.
We almost decided to forgo another trip into Boston on Saturday. I am so glad we didn’t. We drove into town (no rush hour!) and made it just in time for a Ranger walk along the Freedom Trail. Once again, kudos to our fabulous National Park System. The ranger did a great job explaining the history and folklore of Boston’s part in the events along the road to independence.
The tour took us past the South Meeting hall, a Puritan meeting house that was the site of many meetings where the colonists debated the thoughts of revolution. The kids were intrigued by the tithing rod used in the three hour Puritan worship meetings. If someone fell asleep during the services, an usher would come with the tithing rod. One end had a feather for tickling the ladies’ chins, while the other had a wooden ball for bonking a drowsy man’s head!
Right outside the nearby old State House was the site of the “Boston Massacre”. Five colonists were killed after a group of British soldiers, probably in self defense, shot into a crowd that had gathered after a soldier knocked down a boy who had been taunting them. The colonists conveniently applied the term massacre in a propaganda ploy to support the revolutionary cause.
The last part of our tour focused on Paul Revere. It sounds like he was a Renaissance man, an honorable guy with many talents. His home, not too far from the North Church, is still standing. Longfellow’s poem commissioned by Lincoln to inspire patriotism in Civil War times has been a great source of misinformation. There were actually three different riders (Revere went by sea, Dawes went by land, and Prescott joined them outside of Lexington) that roused the Minute Men (who were more realistically hour to hour-and-a-half men…). Revere actually didn’t even make it all the way to Concord, the town where the British were headed. He was detained by a British patrol. Dawes fell off his horse escaping, and Prescott was the only one who made it to Concord!
After the Ranger left us at the Old North Church, a charming older costumed historian took the kids under his wing teaching them even more. He had been the bell keeper at the church for five years and was an expert at Boston minutia!
We completed this last day in Boston picking up produce at the best farmer’s market I’ve every seen. Driving out of the historic area along the Charles River, we drove by the college region including MIT and Harvard. Maybe Nate, with his scientific mind will end up at MIT, with Jenna upriver at Harvard getting her law degree as a stepping stone to her desired job of President of the United States. (As long as she can keep a pet monkey at the White House.)
We have been very impressed with Boston. It is quite clean and the people have been really friendly. It has been a perfect place to wind down the revolutionary history part of our adventure!