Wednesday, September 19, 2007

EPISODE NUMBER TWELVE - MASSACHUSETTS

EPISODE NUMBER TWELVE – MASSACHUSETTS

September 14, 2007
I’m still at Pumpkin Patch for another day to relax. Driving so many kilometers (miles) is really tiring! And this morning I had a 15 minute neck and shoulder massage from a Registered Massage Therapist who came to the campground. When driving, I find that these are the areas that really get tight and the massage was wonderful. It is one of the things that I miss, as I used to go regularly for an hour’s massage once a month.

Today was simply a day to rest. Ripley and I went for a few walks in the back woods where she could run off leash, and I listened to some CD’s and read.

I had hoped to catch a hockey game by now, but as the season hasn’t officially started for the NHL or Junior, I’ve missed out on exhibition games by not being in the right city. Sooner or later I hope to get to see a Leafs away game.

September 15, 2007

I didn’t drive too far today and spent the night at the Wal-Mart in Portland, Maine. On the way, I plugged in a request for a post office on Maude. She sent me around a very circuitous back route on a winding, bumpy road and I never did find the post office. They don’t stand out like ours do with the bright red sign.

There is a grocery chain here in Maine called Shaw’s that offers discounts on food when you sign up for a free card. I managed to save $6.

The barometer is bouncing around and I have a migraine.

September 16, 2007

I was off to a late start today but drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is about 50 miles from Portland, Maine. I didn’t really get to see much of Maine, but was wary about getting into the mountainous region.

I stayed in a Wal-Mart again, to economize, but I did go to see 3:10 to Yuma, starring my friend Pat’s favourite actor Russell Crowe. If I were rating movies, I would give it two thumbs up.

My fridge is acting up again. It is freezing much of the food on a “normal” setting, and the red light is flashing on and off again. This was the part that was recently replaced, but in order to have it fixed for free I would have to re-trace my steps to Bangor, Maine. It still works, so I’ll let it go for now.

There are lots of toll roads in New England in the various states, and I noticed an interesting thing. Ripley barks at the male attendants, but not the females.

September 17, 2007

After arriving at the Wal Mart after dark (because I had gone to the movies), I forgot to turn off my headlights. Philippa is old and the lights don’t turn off automatically. Consequently, the battery was dead this morning. Fortunately for me, a man in a truck very kindly allowed me to use my jumper cables to start the RV. I will have to post a sign on the dashboard to remind me to turn off the lights when I’m driving after dark. I prefer to drive only in daytime, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.

The distance along the coast between Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts is very short, so I soon drove into Massachusetts – and what’s a trip there without stopping in Salem? And how can you not go to Salem without taking in one of the events surrounding the witch trials made famous in the play “The Crucible”?

As I walked along the streets of old Salem from the spot where I parked the RV and had left

Ripley, I took some photos of the houses that have been restored.

I chose to visit the Salem Witch Museum. There was quite a group of people taking the tour with me and we were guided into a large dark room and invited to sit around a circle containing the names of the 19 who were condemned to death by the girls of Salem. The show began with an eerie recorded voice describing the series of events, accompanied by tableaux that lit up as he spoke. These depicted the start of the hysteria by girls raised in the Quaker community, through to the condemnations, imprisonment and eventual hangings. One man was pressed to death by placing heavier and heavier rocks on his body until his rib cage was crushed. The tableaux were pretty graphic and gruesome, scaring the children who were in the audience. No photos were allowed inside, so I can't show you anything.

We were then led into another room where the interpreter told us of the evolution of the fertility goddess and how she evolved from being the wise woman who cured people to an evil witch persona.

Having done the tourist thing, I stopped in at a Visitor’s Centre to find out what else might be of interest in Massachusetts. The attendant showed me where there were a few wildlife refuges, so I chose to drive a little further south from Salem to Marblehead Neck, which is joined by a causeway to the mainland. This is the home of the wealthy who live in gigantic houses surrounded by the ocean. And the roads are narrow and winding, making it hard to maneuver Philippa. Eventually I found the Audubon Bird Sanctuary tucked away on a side street. The owner of these 14 acres had the foresight to donate the land some years ago to the Audubon Society, but it is totally surrounded by houses and one can hear the children playing in the houses, as you walk along the trails. Nevertheless, it was a refreshing change to be in the cool forest, looking for birds. I have trouble identifying small birds, so all I can say is that I saw some warbler types, a black medium-sized bird and some ducks on the pond. A cheeky squirrel ran past me up a tree and then jumped from branch to branch, much like I have seen monkeys do in other countries.

After this break, I had to back Philippa up to turn around on the narrow streets to retrace my path across the causeway back to the mainland, and then south a little way to Lynn, a suburb of Boston, I think, making my way to yet another Wal Mart for an overnight stay. Maude is not 100% accurate, telling me to make a legal U turn in a ¼ mile, when I can see the Wal Mart right across the road. It may have something to do with the address that I plugged in, which I got out of the Wal Mart Atlas. It lists the addresses of every Wal Mart in North America there, which is very convenient. Sometimes Maude also tells me to turn left and then will say “turn right”, after I have got into the left-hand lane.

Whenever I stay overnight at a Wal Mart, I notice that a few other RV’ers are also there. In this particular one in Lynn, there is a security van that patrols the lot regularly, so they are quite safe. Behind this particular store there was a street that led down to the shore. Although there was a barrier across to prevent cars from going any further, I saw no sign saying “keep out”, so Ripley and I took walks down there and she enjoyed running off into the grassy areas to check out all the scents. This area seems to be derelict, with old rotting pylons in the water, and it was quite strange, considering that the real estate along the waterfront here is very expensive. There was a lot with a bunch of cars and vans parked too close together to be a parking lot, so I wondered if it might be an impound area. Whatever it was, the area was quite neglected, but a good spot for Ripley.

September 18, 2007

As I have been to Boston twice before, I decided to skip this area and head into central Massachusetts. I dutifully plugged in the information into Maude, who did a terrible job of getting me lost in the streets of Lynn. She would tell me to bear left and then suddenly say “turn right” and then would say nothing while she re-calculated according to the satellite, while I continued to drive not knowing which way to go. After quite a few wrong turns, I decided to go back to Salem since I knew how to get to the highway west from there. I stopped at a gas station, just to confirm that I was going in the right direction. Maude kept telling me to turn around, but after I ignored her, she finally re-calculated and got in line with my direction. I guess all back seat drivers can make mistakes!

As I was driving along the toll road ($3.25 this time), my brake warning light came on again. This hadn’t happened for several days, and now I have the worry of whether or not there is really something wrong with my brakes, or if it is just a faulty sensor. If it persists on being on, I will have to find an RV dealer and spend more money to have it checked. What with that worry and the fridge not working properly, I can’t completely relax.

My objective today is to visit Olde Sturbridge Village, a re-creation of a 19th century New England farming village, and for me it would be an interesting contrast to the Louisbourg Fortress in Cape Breton. I almost baulked at paying the admission fee of $18 for Seniors, but decided to go in anyway.

The site is quite large and, as their brochure says, you “journey back to the world of rural New England during America’s early years (1790 – 1840) where everyday people built a new nation. Stroll the rural landscape, chat with costumed Villagers, meet rare-breed farm animals and discover the many engaging offerings that bring history to life!”

I was in time to see several demonstrations, including firing a musket rifle, printing on an old press, carding wool by machine, seeing some rare breeds of animals (Dorking chickens; black pigs, shorthorn and Devon cattle, merino sheep), see a woman cooking breakfast over a chimney stove, and watching a potter turn his wheel. I stopped to talk to some of the costumed villagers, but found it not quite as authentic as Louisbourg. Their shoes were modern, and some of them wore modern glasses. One man had modern pants on. And a few were only in t-shirts with the logo of the site on them. They also spoke, not as a person in the 19th century, but rather referred to the villagers in the third person when describing life then. In this respect, I much preferred Louisbourg. However, there were lots of good things to be said as well about Olde Sturbridge. There were hands-on craft centres where you could forge an iron hook, dip a candle or make a tin candleholder (all for a fee). Children were invited to try to milk a cow (not a real one), and to try their hand at various activities.

It is very much an educational institution, with regular classes going on. And of course, there were also the gift shops to buy a myriad of items, some of which were made on site (iron hooks, clay mugs, pots, etc.).

After walking around the entire site for several hours, I returned to Ripley and Philippa feeling quite tired. Here’s Ripley enjoying her walk in the forest next to the village.

I decided it was time to enjoy a shower and the comforts of electricity and chose to go to a campground about 15 miles away. We proceeded to this campsite around 5:00 p.m., only to find nobody in attendance to register, and a large sign on the door, saying that registration takes place at 2:00 p.m. What a ridiculous notion! This is the first campground that I have encountered with such a stringent rule. Who can possibly plan their arrival in the middle of the day when most travelers are doing other things at that time?

This was a huge disappointment, and since I couldn’t find another campground close by in my directory, I opted to go to the Wal Mart yet again, in nearby Brimfield. I plugged in the address into Maude, and she again steered me wrong, telling me to turn right after saying to bear left. Fortunately I could see the Wal Mart store down the hill and made my way there, after stopping first at a Stop and Shop grocery store in the same mall.

Imagine my surprise when I saw signs posted stating “No trucks or campers” and another saying “No Overnight Parking”. I guess not all Wal Marts are camper-friendly.

By this time I was extremely tired, and it was getting dark. So I opted to splurge and stay at an economical motel. Again consulting my directory, I made my way back to Sturbridge and checked in at the Best Western American Motel, which allowed dogs. The seniors’ rate was still a hefty $75, plus $5 deposit for Ripley.

It was lovely to luxuriate in a long hot shower, and then watch some TV before turning in. There’s an indoor pool here as well. And, the wireless works right in my room, so it is allowing me to catch up on my blog yet again.

Behind the motel, I found a trail that leads to a pond, so Ripley was again able to run off leash and sniff to her heart’s content.

September 19, 2007

It’s funny that I wasn’t able to sleep well in the motel bed. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but the RV is my “home” now, and this room was strange. Ripley slept under the blankets as she usually does, so I hope there aren’t too many dog hairs on the sheets!

I was asked to include more photos of Ripley, so here’s another – she’s enjoying the comforts of the motel bed.

It was a good opportunity too, to wash Ripley under the shower. Before I got her, she had been trained to jump into the tub when you say “tubby”, and she dutifully stood still while I used the motel’s shampoo to wash off the grease that she had acquired when we were back at Pumpkin Patch. A chipmunk had climbed up into the chassis of the RV when Ripley chased it, and she then proceeded to try to climb up too, getting grease on her coat. So now she smells much better – at least for the time being.

So, it is almost 10:30 a.m. Time to hit the road. But I haven’t yet decided on the route or where exactly we’ll end up yet. I generally get ideas at the Visitor Centers, so expect that there will be one when I cross into Connecticut – or New York State. I had contacted an old friend Monica, who now works and lives in New York City for Conservation International, but I haven't heard back from her.

Before I left on my trip, my friend Elaine Christens had invited me over for dinner. She has a Jack Russell named Meg and was the person who put me in touch with the Jack Russell Rescue Group. So it is thanks to her that I now have Ripley. Here's a photo of Meg and Ripley together before we left.

1 comment:

Jan said...

looks like you are having a great time. Rip looks happy too.
Jan