Nancy's Travel Journal
New England-- September/October 2004

We exchanged houses with Ed and Estelle, who live on Cape Cod. We spent a month at their house and traveling around New England

See Bill's Video of Our Trip

9/9/04 – Thursday
We caught an early flight to Providence, RI. I studied the guidebooks during the entire flight (about 5 ½ hours), so I really had a handle on Cape Cod. We arrived and easily found Ed and Estelle’s mint green Saturn right where they said they’d park it. We paid $26 for the parking and we were on our way.

It wasn’t easy navigating through all those screwy rotaries, but we found our way. We stopped for dinner at Bobby Bryne’s Bar at the Mashpee Commons. The place was built to look like a little New England town. We had a beer and shared a seafood casserole – cod, shrimp and scallops – pretty good, but not great.

It was only about a 5-mile drive to our final destination -- Ed and Estelle's house in Cotuit. We had a little trouble finding the place because it’s very dark and very country out here. We loved the house -- everything homey and darling. We were very happy with the trade.

We put our things away and then decided to take a walk. I love the neighborhood – even in the darkness. These houses just dropped out of a New England history book – it can’t be real. We made it to town just in time for the downpour. Haven’t seen sheets of rain come down like that in ages. I thought we were in a terrible storm or something (too much Charlie, Frances, and Ivan, I suppose) so I flagged down a local policeman and told him we just came in from San Diego and needed him to take us home. He gave me a “you must be crazy” look and said, “Lady, I’m on duty now, I can’t do that.” Bill wanted to hide – but I rather enjoyed my encounter with the Cotuit Law. We stood underneath an awning on the local store until the rain let up and then dashed back home soaking wet. We watched the news and then went to sleep in a cute little bed under cute little curtains and a cute little skylight. The rains were on and off all night. I loved it.

Our house on Cape Cod

"Downtown" Cotuit

9/10/04 – Friday
Couldn’t tell if it was going to rain or not. We puttered around the house, had breakfast, composed a grocery list and then went to Roche Brothers, a very nice new grocery store. The produce was beautiful and expensive – lettuce was $1.69 a head. We got a deli sandwich from a darling little gal who was returning to her homeland, Poland, on Sunday. She was studying for her Master’s in Statistics, Math and Econometrics. We told her the places we had visited in Poland and she kept piling on the ham slices and cheese. There was enough meat on that sandwich to keep us alive all week!

We also stopped for a local paper, some local beer (called Buzzard’s Bay) and movies from Blockbuster’s – “The Secret Window,” a Stephen King film with Johnny Depp, and a foreign film “Barbarian Invasions.”

We came home, ate our HUGE sandwich on the deck and watched the birds. I loved the red birds – haven’t seen any red birds in years. In San Diego, I’ve had to learn to love the regular brown ones. After lunch, we rested, read and studied the guidebooks.

For dinner, we used up all Estelle’s homegrown tomatoes and basil from her garden to make fresh pasta sauce. Then we watched “The Secret Window” – a real thriller. We both loved it (except Bill doesn’t love inanimate things).

9/11/04 – Saturday
I woke up and looked out the upstairs bedroom window and saw a squirrel running around in the garden with a tennis ball in his mouth. I think the ball came from the tennis court next door. What a great way to start the day.

I made the breakfast while Bill installed the bike rack and loaded up the bikes. We left about 8:30 AM for Provincetown Day (P-Town).

On the road, I tried to navigate on the more interesting local roads and just got all turned around, so we finally got to I-6 and stayed there until we got to the very end of the cape – a delightful, charming town. Provincetown is a former Portuguese fishing village turned into an internationally famous art and gay colony with a fun, flamboyant life style. Several of the townsfolk were dressed in red hats. One guy was wearing a cowboy clown suit. I don’t think it’s Halloween yet, is it?

First a little history about P-town. Explorer Bartholomew Gosnold and his crew spotted the area in 1602 and were thrilled to see a great mass of codfish and so they named it Cape Cod. 18 years later, in 1620, the Mayflower with all the Pilgrims aboard happened upon the same place, but were not as delighted. They slogged into the harbor after landing several hundred miles off course. It was a miracle they made it at all with the treacherous Outer Cape. After 5 ½ weeks, the Pilgrims loaded up again and landed at Plymouth Rock – so Plymouth Rock get all the notoriety for the first landing!

Once in town, we headed straight to Art’s Dune Tours to hitch a ride in a Chevy Suburban for $17 a pop. Charlie was our driver and tour guide. There were only six of us -- an older couple (even older than us) and a couple of fun loving Aussies. Charlie took us around the dunes to show us some the charming, although decrepit “dune shacks.” People like Eugene O’Neill, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock and Tennessee Williams cooked up their greatest works in these shacks. The dune shacks were saved because of the townspeople’s work and clever use of the “National Historic Landmark” label. I was disappointed we didn’t get to peak inside one of these places. Charlie pointed out the specific shack where Tennessee Williams wrote the “Glass Menagerie.” However, Frommer, my trusted tour guide, reported Williams wrote “A Street Car Named Desire,” a much better play, in my opinion.

Charlie went very slowly over the dunes – I would have liked a bit more pep. He did tell us some interesting facts about the vegetation. The first settlers needed wood and first stripped the place of all the trees (pretty shortsighted, if you ask me). Then they let their animals graze, removing all the ground cover. After that, all the topsoil blew away. Finally, in 1952, the citizens planted beach grass to anchor the sand. These actions completely changed the face of Cape Cod. We saw lots of that beach grass, cattails, cranberry bogs and lots of wild rose hip flowers in two colors – white and deep pink. The large red berries on the wild roses are loaded with vitamin C. The settlers ate them for health just as the sailors ate limes to combat scurvy. Charlie also showed us wild bay leaves that are used to scent the candles. You can buy them today in expensive candle stores.

We left the dunes and returned to P-town. Charlie suggested we have lunch at Bubalas by the Bay and so we did. We both thought it was a little too fru-fru and pricey. Our plain fish sandwich was 8 bucks.

After lunch we dashed to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum to attend a lecture by a guy who wrote a book about little know places in New England. I tried to take notes but he went so fast. I managed to jot down a few notes -- Dunkin Donuts started right on the Cape (in a town called Sandwich) along with Mr. Tupper of Tupperware. I couldn’t keep up with him, so I stopped and snoozed a little. Too bad – interesting guy, but way too much to say.

After the lecture we quickly toured the museum looking at models of the Mayflower and the first settlements. We climbed the 60 ramps interspersed with 116 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the town. The tower looks almost medieval and is the tallest granite tower in the county.

We checked P-town off our list and headed for the Provincelands Visitor Center in the Cape Code Natiional Seashore. We made a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center and then unloaded our bikes (rather, Ed and Estelle’s bikes). We rode about 10 miles on a lovely paved path looping around dunes and gorgeous beaches. We saw Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beach (where we had visited the dune shacks in the morning). It felt great to get some exercise. However my bike turned out to be a lethal weapon. Only a few cuts and bruises before I figured out how to avoid the sharp protruding edges on the pedals and handlebars.

We biked until about 6 or 6:30 and then headed back to Cotuit. Sorry to leave P-town – great spot. – only wish we had more time. We got home around 8 and heated up our leftover pasta. We watched the video, “Barbarian Invaders.” It was probably good if I could read the subtitles that remained on the screen for only a nano second. I dozed on and off during the movie. Got to bed late again.

Provincetown from Pilgrim Monument

Provincelands National Park

9/12/04 – Sunday
After a quick breakfast, we loaded the bikes and headed to Sandwich – definitely a 3-star town! Not only is it the oldest town on the Cape, but also, the quaintest. Main Street was linked with towering oak trees, historic houses and two early 19th-century churches. Sandwich was founded in 1637 by some Puritans looking for a nice place to worship. It is such a peaceful, quiet town – I guess all those good vibes stuck around.

On our way into town, we stopped at the Visitor Information Center and found a delightful older lady who helped us plan our day. I asked her where to get lunch and commented that a sandwich might be nice to have in Sandwich. She said it was very tough to get a sandwich around here, but recommended Seafood Sam’s. Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself. . . Lunch comes later.

Our first stop was Heritage Plantation of Sandwich. There are 76 acres of gardens and paths, one windmill and a scattering of buildings. One of the buildings was a replica of a Shaker round barn packed with antique automobiles owned by a very wealthy family named Lilly. Gary Cooper owned one of the cars, a Duesenberg. I talked to an older local, Scotty, rubbing down the cars. She and another docent knew everything about these cars. I love to travel, not necessarily for the facts I gather at these places of treasures, but for the people I meet who care for these treasures and the passion and excitement they have in sharing their knowledge.

We left the old car museum and we walked past an old windmill and then caught a shuttle to the Art Museum. The museum housed a wonderful old 1912 hand carved carousal. We rode on it to the tunes of “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis.” You could ride all day for free and the little old gals seemed to love throwing the switch. After we had enough merry-go-round, we moved on to the next room to view some old weather vanes and carved figures along with early American paintings where all the children in the paintings look alike and they all look like adults. Next, we walked to the History Museum with a focus on baseball and some information about the local graveyards. The building was a replica of an old meeting house and mildly interesting.

We walked around the gardens – such a gorgeous area. We stopped by an old house with an herb garden planted in the side yard. We were examining the garden when an Amish couple strolled into the area. The woman wore a bonnet and a long dress and the man was dressed with a similar “colonial look.” I thought they worked at the place as actors and I said to Bill with a big smile, “Oh honey, look who’s come to tell us about their garden.” They looked startled and left the garden area quickly. I hid behind the house until they were gone. Would anyone like to travel with me on my next trip? After insulting that sweet Amish couple and asking the Cotuit Policeman to drive me home, Bill is not amused.

We walked through the lovely wooded area. In one out-of-the-ordinary spot, 5,000 little 6-inch bags of concrete hardened in fabric bags were lined up under the large trees. Surprisingly enough, the bags created a most interesting effect. Think I’ll do that for our yard.

After Heritage Park, we had lunch at Seafood Sam’s, recommended by the lady at the Information Center. It was good. I had the lobster roll – a hotdog bun loaded with lobster. Bill had Fish and Chips and then we walked across the parking lot to the Cape Cod Canal Visitor’s Center. The center was set up by the Army Corps of Engineers to show how they built the canals. Because of these canals, one can save 135 miles of travel around the coastline. I don’t think the canal looks that hot – I prefer natural coastlines.

We headed back in the town of Sandwich to see the museums that don’t open on Sundays until 1.

We stopped at the Sandwich Glass Museum. Deming Jarves started the glass business in Sandwich in 1828 and had a thriving business until the place was closed down in 1888 when coal became available. Jarves brought mass production to glass making with a stamp-machine along with the rich natural resources the town had to offer – a lot of wood, fine sand, marsh grass for packing the glass and easy shipping access on a nearby waterway. The first glass blowers in the factory were true artists and made about $28 a week (compared to other laborers who made only about $2 a week). These masters came to work in nice clothes and had apprentices to assist them. After the invention of the stamp – there was no need to pay the high priced artisans. Robert, a charming young glass blower, did a demonstration at the museum. He made a cowboy hat and a swan and entertained us with his quirky stories.

We walked down to our next Sandwich adventure, a 1640 gristmill beside Shawne Pond with two lovely swans that refused to come close enough to me for the perfect picture – damn those swans! We paid a couple of bucks to see the operation and experience life in a different time. The paddle wheel, still turning by the fast moving water, which in turn, turned the old gears, which turned the grinding wheels, which ground the corn into a fine meal. I loved the old timer who explained the process – another person with patience and time and lots of knowledge to pass on.

We stopped in at the Thornton W. Burgess home. He was born in Sandwich in 1874 and became a famous children’s author. He wrote 170 books including the classic “The Adventures of Peter Cottontail.” The town has the famous “Briar Patch” and adjacent Smiling Pool. Later we tried to visit The Green Brian Nature Center and Jam Kitchen (established in 1903), but they were just closing up. We didn’t tour the house, but another older lady asked if we knew anything about the place. I just said, “Burgess was a children’s author and inherited the house from his crazy old aunt who claimed she could talk not only to the animals, but also to the vegetation.” The docent said, “Yes, you know a lot about this place.” Wonder how long this guidebook minutia will remain in my brain.

The last museum for the day was the Hoxie House. While we were waiting for our guided tour, I studied a person who looked to be about 75% through a sex change process (and the process was obviously not going well). She/he was telling the ticket taker that his/her Mother had lots of money to dominate to a charitable cause. The ticket taker was handling the situation with guarded optimism. I was glad when she/he left because she/he was rather loud – but great people-watching entertainment.

I really loved the Hoxie House. I could have stayed there all day. Another jewel of a docent was our delightful tour guide. She was frail and all stooped over, but the power in her voice made her words stick in my brain (at least for now). She even knew the last family who lived in the house. They had a son who had epilepsy and he couldn’t leave the house. The town called the poor kid “Fitzy.” Talk about politically incorrect!

The place was built about 1640 on a bluff overlooking the Shawme Pond in the center of town. In 1959 it was restored. The first family who occupied the house was the Smiths, with 10 kids and a host of sheep. They added a room for the sheep that first winter. It must have smelled to high heaven. The family only took a bath once a year in May, which, by the way, is why June weddings were so popular. The bride and groom weren’t that smelly yet. The bride also carried a bouquet of herbs, not flowers, to keep down the stench. We saw the cradles, hat boxes, open fireplace for cooking, a table that turned into a man’s chair (turn the tables, also had to pay less taxes for one piece of furniture), a spinning wheel, leaded windows (made from melting down for ammunition for the Revolution), front door with 90 large nails lined up (to keep the Indians from hatcheting down the door – by the way no Indians ever came), hand woven blankets with wool and flax (the wool was dyed blue from the wrapping paper of the 5 lb. Sugar block), the dresser (then used to show off items to “dress” the room), grid iron (for cooking over the fire), trench bowl for the kids to communally eat out of (and get “trench mouth” from all the shared bacteria), and so on.

The house was called a “salt box” house because of its slanted roof. The salt boxes, carried over on the ships, had a slanted tops so the rain and waves would roll off the box and help keep the salt dry. Salt was a very important item for preserving food and also for hiding the taste of food going bad. Those pilgrims had it rough.

Five generations of the Smiths lived in the house. Then Captain Abraham Hoxie, a whaling captain, bought the house. He remodeled the place to make it nicer for his two daughters, who were of marrying age. Three generations of Hoxies lived in the house before it was returned to the state because of unpaid back taxes.

I was sorry when the tour was over – I know there was so much more information to be gleamed from that spirited little stooped over lady. It was 4:00 by now and all the museums were closed. We drove over to Sandy Neck Beach, rated three stars by Frommer. The parking guard waved us through so we knew our car had the proper permit pasted on the windshield (and saved us $10). We walked along the water and saw lots of families enjoying the late afternoon. Finally Bill wanted to go home. He was wearing down. On our way home, we stopped at Block Busters and got “Mystic River.” We made hamburgers and then Bill watched the video while I studied the tour books and tried to catch up in my journal.

Heritage Museum

Hoxie House

9/13/04 – Monday
We ate breakfast, loaded the bikes and drove to Falmouth, founded in 1660 by Quaker sympathizers from Sandwich (where Congregationalists thought theirs the one true path). Falmouth was beautiful (although I still rate Sandwich even more beautiful). We parked outside the library and walked through town. We saw the Village Green (used for military exercises in pre-Revolutionary days). We stopped at the museum, which was closed on Monday. We walked back to our car and drove to the parking lot at the start of the “Shining Sea Bicycle Path”. The path was named after Falmouth’s own Katherine Lee Bates who wrote the lyrics to “American the Beautiful” and the verse “…. From sea to shining sea.”

We switched bikes around. Bill was on my former bike (the one that kept causing me bodily harm) and I was trying out another one we found in the basement. I liked the old “Shogun” model and was quite happy and comfortable. In fact, I may buy one when I return to San Diego.

We biked on the 3.3-mile trail into Woods Hole and then messed around Woods Hole. Woods Hole is a wonderful, funky town surrounded by water and oceanographic research. Lots of bearded scientists roam the area. I loved all the old buildings that were turned into sophisticated labs (e.g., the red brick 1836 candle factory is now a scientific institution). The labs were closed to the public on Monday, but we stopped at the Aquarium, which was open. We just missed the feeding of Coco, the seal. The exhibits were fun and the fish amazing. I thought of ZiZi and all the times we watched “Nemo” together. All the fish looked like our friends in Nemo. She would have loved it.

We stopped and had lunch at Cap’n Kidd. The tourists have left (except for us) so we could appreciate the old hand-carved Mahoney bar dating from the early 1800’s. We ate outside overlooking Eel Pond. We shared some clam chowder and a fish sandwich. A guy who works for Kodak was having lunch there as well. He took a picture of us with my little Kodak digital camera (and it didn’t work right after that!)

After lunch, we were ready to climb back on our bikes. We just missed the elevated bridge that rises to let tall boats come through and block the entire traffic through town.

We biked to Quisset Harbor and then back to Falmouth, stopping at the Nobska Lighthouse – Oh-my-god – beautiful spot, beautiful everything and then my camera choked and gave me the message “Unreadable format – too bad!” (I knew it – that Kodak guy sabotaged my camera – He wants me to buy another one, I’m sure). I decided to go on living and enjoying a wonderful day of biking. I will never tire of biking in this gorgeous place.

We stopped at Falmouth Heights Beach and checked out the grand Victorian mansions overlooking the beach. We also stopped at the ferry landing to Martha’s Vineyard to check out parking and the schedule.

We biked back to the parking lot, but hadn’t gotten our fill of biking, so continued on for another mile and then returned. We packed up and headed back to Cotuit, stopping at the grocery store.

When we arrived home, things had taken a turn for the ugly. There was a message from Ed and our insurance company. Ed had a wreck in our truck, backing out of a parking place – but everyone was OK. Then I went out to the garden to pick a fresh tomato for our salad and found that the neighbors had harvested the entire crop sometime that day. The last straw was that Bill was having trouble downloading my pictures – but at last, he finally succeeded.

How could I document this picturesque place without my camera? Bill would have to make it video-esque, and I’d be left with nothing but I”word-esque” and my words are none too good. Enough of that – cameras intact, we can go on living.

Zi called us and talked for about 30 minutes. Amy said she cried when she heard my voice on the answering machine and had to talk to her NiNi. We talked about watching her videos, camping, going to the “Drive-Off” (her term for “Drive-in,” eating and all the important things 3 year olds like. I really miss her.

After dinner, I caught up in the journal and Bill studied the tour books. It’s another bike ride for tomorrow.

Woods Hole Aquarium

Nancy Paying for Her Digressions

9/14/04 – Tuesday
After breakfast Bill loaded the bikes and we were off to Brewster. Bill carefully listed the travel route, restaurants, and museums along the way (with hours noted) on a little sticky note adhered to the guidebook. I’m a terrible tour guide, junking up the front seat with books, maps, brochures and all sorts of notes. I might lose my travel director job.

We arrived at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History at 9:30, but the place didn’t open until 10 – The guidebook was wrong, not Bill! We took a hike behind the museum in the marshland, walking on boards and happy it was low tide. The area was 85 acres (we didn’t cover all of it) and is named Wing Island, thought to have sheltered one of Brewster’s first settlers – the Quaker John Wing. He was driven from Sandwich in the mid-17th century, a Congregationalist hotbed, by religious persecution. Imagine that, folks coming all the way here to this brave new world to seek religious freedom and what do they do? First kick out the native tribes dating back 10 millennia or more and then persecute other religious folks out who don’t agree with them. Human nature is very strange. On our hike, we saw some magnificent big birds gliding along the shoreline (possibly Blue Herons and Marsh Hawks). We also saw some cute little guys dashing across the sand – They might have been the endangered “Piping Plover.”

Tucked away in protected area, was a mini-Stonehenge -- a circle of about ten 5-foot rocks, left by the natives to check the shadows marking the seasons and solstices. If England’s Stonehenge was a grandfather clock, this thing was more like a pocket watch. How did tribes and communities know to construct such things? I know, space aliens did it!

We finished our outback exploration just as the museum was opening, but we decided to forego the indoor displays. We were hot to jump on our bikes. It was another drop dead gorgeous day and we didn’t want to miss a minute of it.

We found a bike shop in Brewster, got the friendly young bike mechanic to adjust my seat (so I wouldn’t feel like a circus clown riding a bike) and we hit the trail. Cape Cod has the coolest bike trail system called the Cape Cod Rail Trail – most of it is paved and tucked away from any streets. It was built on the old railroad tracks. It is so fun to speed down the forested trails and at times, overlook ponds (called Kettle pots – lakes left by the glaciers) and best of all, pedal by the vast ocean. This is the way to explore a new place – we are hooked! Amazingly enough, I am falling in love with Estelle’s old blue bike and am not even missing my fancy Trek racing bike. “Blue,” like most other New England products, is old, solid and dependable. I even think the kickstand, a real No-No for serious riders, is cool.

We loved flying through adorable little towns named Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and finally Wellfleet, our northernmost town. Amazingly enough, the drivers, on the rare occasions that we see them, are very considerate, stopping at every crosswalk at the slightest site of a biker. They must have laws against running over bikers.

We biked about 15 miles when the path ended at outskirt of Wellfleet. Not knowing where to turn, a woman, coming out of her driveway, seemed our bewilderment, stopped the car and came over to give us options, including where to eat for lunch. She was so friendly and helpful that Bill thought it must be some trap. I thought she was just a nice, nurturing massage therapist-type. I was right. She told us to go into town along the eastern shoreline. There was very little traffic – the tourists have gone home – except for lucky us.

We stopped at a couple of the almost vacant beaches along the way – White Crest and Cahoon Hollow. They were magnificent with high cliffs, white sand and the powerful Atlantic Ocean pounding the shore. We didn’t find the Marconi Beach when the famous Marconi Wireless Station once stood. (It was dismantled in 1920). The Italian inventor, Gulielmo Marconi, broadcast, via a complex of 210-foot cable towers, the world’s first wireless message from President Teddy Roosevelt to King Edward VII. The news of the Titanic first reached the shores at this station.

It was about 1:30 and we were hungry from all our biking, so we headed into Wellfleet and found a little café called The Lighthouse. Food was good – I had a fish sandwich and Bill had a tuna sandwich. We have fish everyday – hope the Mercury levels in our systems are safe.

After lunch we walked around town, documenting the place -- I with my little digital buddy and Bill with his video pal. What a lovely place – churches, houses, stores – everything too perfect to be real.

We climbed back on our bikes and headed for our car in Brewster, stopping only once for an ice cream in Eastham – Yummy. With our chocolate mint and chocolate yogurt, we had enough energy to get back to our car. From there it was an easy drive “home.”

We had our usual Buzzard’s Bay beer and watched the news – tracking Ivan and the next big one brewing over the Caribbean -- those poor people. Looks like New Orleans might get it on Thursday morning.

We made omelets and spent a quiet evening at home. Bill read his book and I caught up in my journal. So much to tell.

On our way to Wellfleet

Shop in Wellfleet

9/15/04 – Wednesday
After breakfast, we visited the Cape Code Potato Chip Factory in Hyannis-- not much of a tour. It was a self-guided tour down a long hallway where you peaked in at the factory workers, all in their hairnets, processing potato chips. We bought a bucket of chips for two bucks in the gift shop – yummy!

We drove on to Chatham (a 3-star town right on the elbow of the Cape). Chatham was charming and one of the first spots to attract early explorers – Samuel de Chaplain stopped by in 1606, but had to leave quickly because he wasn’t too friendly with the local tribes. In 1656 William Nickerson landed and became great pals with the tribe leader and even built his place right next-door – smart move.

At first we didn’t have much luck with our historical sights – Mayo House was closed (one of the free museums) and we couldn’t find the old Victorian Railroad station and museum. We walked around the gorgeous homes and gardens, shooting pictures of everything in sight. One adorable Victorian house had a matching playhouse just like it (now that was cute)! We roamed back into town. After we got chased out of Town hall, we decided to have some lunch.

We ate at Carmine’s Pizza – good choice! The tour book highly recommended the Chatham Candy Manor for some fudge. I bought a piece from a gal who had her nose bridge pierced. I tried to act cool, like I was from California, but it really bothered me. The fudge was just so-so, so I shared it with Bill.

We found a very helpful lady at the Tourist Information booth. Fortified with pizza and armed with data, we were ready to do Chatham justice. We drove about a half-mile to Chatham Lighthouse, built in 1876 and still operating. For some reason, today was special and the lighthouse was open for touring. Three knowledgeable old coast guard types pointed interesting facts. At the top of the lighthouse, we could clearly see the “break” that burst through Chatham’s barrier beach in 1987. Over the brief period since 1987, two lighthouses and million dollar homes were lost to the sea. Amazing to see the landscape change that quickly.

We stopped at the Old Atwood House and Museum, a 1752 homestead. It was a cool place and gave the sense of the town’s history. On the lawn of the house was a 1947 fishing camp that was saved from the 1987 break in the beach. It looked like the people had just left.

In the main house, there were many crusty Sea Captains with their portraits. I liked the one who was like Donald Trump, hair and all. He was the WHEELER-DEALER. We also saw a captain who had lost his leg to a whale as a young crew guy and lived to become a captain of his own ship -- so many fascinating stories.

The captains paintings were all done by the local artist Frederick Stallknecht. His mother, Alice Stallknecht Wight, was a much better painter. Her murals of the town folk celebrating the Last Supper were displayed in the last section of the museum. The docent pointed all the folks in the town pictured in the mural, including her own Dad casting his ballet and the old country family doctor. The guy who was Christ was a repair guy / carpenter, I believe. The whimsical, primitive murals caused quit a stir in the 1940’s. I found them charming – sorry, no photos.

We stopped at Stop ‘n Shop and got provisions for Lee and Caroline. Then we dashed home to prepare dinner (Salmon Bow Tie Pasta), do some wash and straighten the house. Lee and Caroline arrived at 6:30.

The dinner was nice – It was fun to have company. Caroline is getting a cold, so she had some hot tea and took her magic medicine.

Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory

Chatam Lighthouse

9/16/04 – Thursday
We had our typical breakfast and headed for Falmouth to do the museum (Falmouth Museums on the Green) we missed on Monday. It was very interesting and even more interesting with Lee and Caroline and their inquiring minds. Three docents showed us around – and what an excited group they were! They were regular cheerleaders for the place.

The first part of the tour was in the 1790 Julia Woods House, built by Revolutionary physician Dr. Francis Wicks. The front room was his office. We saw some scary tools for removing one’s tonsils and a couple of bottles of leaches. Dr. Wicks and an assistant who blew in from England came up with the first small pox vaccine. They were well known throughout the area.

Next door, past an authentic colonial garden was the mid-18th century Conant House. It was originally built for the town minister – now it housed all sorts of exhibits. The nautical stuff gave one a sense of what life was like on a ship. It was not uncommon for ships to be at sea for three years. The captain could take his wife and family along on the ship, if he wanted. One captain and his wife had 3 of their 4 children at sea. The display showed the toys made for the kids to keep them entertained. There were also the intricate “sailor’s valentines,” made of shells. Tales of life at sea were fascinating.

Another room in the house was dedicated to Katharine Lee Bates – Falmouth-born author of “America, the Beautiful.” She had a poor struggling life as a kid and then became famous. She was overweight, never married and liked her dogs.

One sweet docent showed us the layout of a typical whaling ship chalked on the lawn. Her husband joined the group and made her nervous. She did screw up some of the facts, but I learned a lot about what whaling life was like.

We ended our tour in an old barn that had old farm tools and the sleigh that Dr. Wicks used to make his house calls. They also had an assortment of old clothing and hats for tourists’ dress-up / pretend time. It was fun. I bought Zi some paper dolls.

We walked to the downtown area in Falmouth and choose an old pub to have lunch. The flower boxes out front were loaded with colorful veggies – like chilies and cabbage cleverly arranged. The food was good – Bill and I split a clam chowder and a dish, but I ended up eating Caroline’s chicken sandwich. Without asking, I took a photo of the crusty old bartender – shame on me!

The weather was not looking good so we decided on a driving tour. We headed to Woods Hole – love that little town. The rain was really starting to pour. We ducked into the Woods Hole Historical Museum. I enjoyed the 1920 films of the rich folks enjoying their rich life – lots of smiles and dogs and food and beautiful homes – not much has changed. We also viewed the barn that housed old boats and canoes – I wasn’t very interested.

With the rain coming down, we jumped in the car and looked for cranberry bogs. For some reason, I’m on a search for cranberry bogs. They fascinate me. It’s a little early for harvest, so I guess I’m out of luck. We found an ice cream place and grabbed a bite for energy. The guys had the cranberry with pieces of chocolate and nuts mixed in. I had my walnut chocolate and realized my mistake after one bite of Bill’s. Oh WOW – Ice cream rules in these parts.

We wound up back in Sandwich, my very favorite Cape Cod town. We drove down to the Canal area to get some lobsters at Joe’s Seafood. The woman at the counter was not thrilled with us. We were sad and frightened for the lobsters. When she had had it, she just grabbed four large lobsters and dashed off to the back room to steam the suckers in private.

We came home, took at walk around the hood and then made a fabulous lobster dinner. They were huge and delicious -- best I’ve ever had ($8.99 / lb). Of course, I documented the dinner preparation and festivities. We were fat and sassy that night!

Lee and Caroline in Falmouth

Bar in Falmouth

9/17/04 – Friday
We were up early to have breakfast and drive to Falmouth Heights to catch the Island Queen to Martha’s Vineyard. Nice day – it looked like the rain was gone.

We arrived at Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard. A few years ago, Lee and Caroline had stayed on the island for 4 days, so we gladly let them become the tour guides.

The first stop, Camp Meeting Grounds, knocked my socks off – a 34 acre circle with over 300 of the cutest, most colorful, miniature Victorian homes I’ve ever seen in one spot and each surrounded by gorgeous little gardens. In the late 18th century, people (mostly blacks) came to the island for a summer of revival meetings. They stayed in canvas tents erected over small slab foundations. Later the people started to build little houses on these foundations – no supports necessary, just “tongue in groove.” By the 1920’s, the place had a charm of it’s own. Now, it has a life of it’s own. My shuttle finger could not be contained.

At the center, we saw the huge tabernacle tent (Trinity Park Tabernacle), built in 1879. Thousands sat on the wooden benches (still there) and sing their hearts out on Wednesday nights in July and August.

We stopped at the Cottage Museum to learn more about the place. A gentle soul, Stephanie, showed us around one of these houses. She came with her parents in a “Woody” and now lives in one of the houses. She is an artist and designed several posters of the area. I’m sorry I didn’t get one of her works, but we had to hurry and catch the bus to Edgartown. (We bought a $6 bus pass to cover the island.)

We got off the bus in Edgartown – wonderful charming place and strolled around the expensive stores. They were running some nice end-of-the-season sales. Caroline and I were excited, but the guys weren’t, so we couldn’t do much damage. (Now if we’d been left alone … Lord help us!)

We ducked into a little pub (Newes from American) built in 1742. The French onion soup was great along with the hamburger we split. Lee order a rack of ale – I never saw such a presentation. (He shared some of loot with us.)

After lunch and a couple more stores, we boarded the bus and headed for Gay Head Beach (on Aquinnah). There were some very obnoxious, but entertaining loud folks from North Carolina who seemed to be having a miserable trip and were plotting how the heck they could get back home fast. (Later I realized that they might have feared the wrath of Ivan moving up the country causing floods and destruction.)

We viewed the lighthouse and cliffs from above and then walked down to the beach. The colors were amazing with reds, blacks, and yellows all blending the textures together – what a sight. We left the beach, grabbed an ice cream at a cheap little tourist spot and boarded the bus to Vineyard Haven (Tisbury).

Caroline and I made a beeline for “The Black Dog” store with SALE signs plastered all over it. But it turned out not to be much of a sale. “The Black Dog” enterprise started in this part of the country and is really BIG here.

We caught the bus back to our port arrival / departure port of Oak Bluffs. We walked down to the Ocean Beach park (built over the septic tanks – boy is the grass green here). We had just enough time to do another stroll through those charming Victorian Houses. We never found Stephanie’s place (as shown in the poster) – oh well.

We boarded the boat – tired, but happy campers. It was too windy on the deck so we went below close to the Engine Room. Lee bought a 4-pack of wine – so we were even more happy campers.

A little over an hour or so and we were back at Falmouth Heights. We stopped at Betsy’s diner for a fattening, yummy dinner. Lee and I had fish and chips, Bill the turkey dinner. Caroline was the winner with her scallops. We came home, really fat and sassy and watched Barbara Walter’s 25th anniversary retrospect 20-20 show. Time goes fast!

Victorian Homes on Martha's Vineyard

Nancy at Gay Head Lighthouse

9/18/04 – Saturday
We had our last breakfast with Lee and Caroline. I’ll miss our traveling buddies. They took off to catch their cruise (after visiting a new family baby) and then we packed and took off to Boston. The weather was really bad – pouring down buckets of rain. Ivan’s fury has hit.

Of course, we got lost in Boston (always do), but with some help from the gas station guy, we found the Fine Arts Museum (near Fenway Park). Wonderful museum – but EXPENSIVE. Parking alone was $22. Art Deco was the special exhibit – very interesting. I love that design and that period (1910 – 1939, then the war came).

After the Art Deco exhibit, we did the impressionistic rooms – Van Gogh, Monet, etc. Nice – but I’ve seen those hay stacks everywhere and they’re starting to get a little wearing.

We covered the entire museum – Greek, Egyptian, Japanese, Indian, Iraq (so sad – the oldest civilization to organize their towns, develop writing, etc. and now we’re made a mess of it), I snapped pictures like crazy – really liked the early American paintings, especially the primitive art portraits where all the little kids looked alike. Learned a lot about having the kids portrait done (sometimes by traveling artists) because the tintypes had not been invented yet.

We left the museum about closing time and headed to Dick and Diane’s on Chestnut Hill. Of course we got lost again – we’re in Boston. Finally, through the guidance of another gas station attendant, we got back on track.

When we found the place, Bill thought their driveway was another street. Wonderful old mansion built in 1910 with an addition in the 1920’s and their gardens were spectacular – better than Martha Steward’s. We met Freckles, their darling, aging beagle, who is a sweetheart, just like Dick and Diane.

We walked around the property (outback to the tennis courts) and then explored their house – everything done with such fine taste. I felt like I was in another museum.

We spent the evening munching and drinking. Diane had everything organized and Dick barbequed the salmon kebobs. After dinner, we retired to the “drawing room” and watched the Miss American Pageant, flipping channels occasionally to catch a college football game. Freckles sat curled up by Bill on the couch. It was a lovely evening.

I asked Diane if she left some breadcrumbs so that we could find the way to our bedroom.

Diane in Front of Her Home in Boston


9/19/04 – Sunday
The four of us took Freckles on a walk through their very own “hood.” What a spot for Freckles to take a daily dump. The weather was clear, but blustery and some of the trees were changing to red.

We returned and had breakfast. Diane went off to church. She had to administer the sacraments. (She told us she once misspoke in the prayer and said, “Blessed are the greedy…” Other parishioners said, “Finally, a prayer for us.”) Dick took us on a tour. Several streets were closed down because of some walk / run and for skating.

He showed us MIT and the married student housing he and Diane lived in years ago. (Now he’s the Dean of the Sloan School – came a long way). We went to something called the annual glass pumpkin sale. Beautiful little glass pumpkin treasures scattered around the ground with price tags averaging about $100 – and long lines of people with armloads of pumpkins -- interesting phenomenon.

My favorite building on campus is the new Frank Gehry-designed Computer Science building (on the grounds where radar was first discovered). The building looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book – whimsical and fun. I shot a lot of pictures – just couldn’t get enough of the place. Then we saw Dick’s office – because Diane insisted. What a view of the city.

We drove around Boston – got stuck in traffic. We picked up Diane and went to a great little restaurant near their home. I had the filet mignon hamburger – to die for.

At about 3, we said our good-byes and got promptly lost in Boston again trying to find the freeway. Finally stopped at another gas station – but the clerk couldn’t speak English. Luckily, the man at the pump gave us directions. I’ll never navigate in Boston again without a detailed map. It’s the only place on earth that stumps us.

We came home (our place on Cape Cod), had some leftovers, watched 60-minute re-runs and returned to life as we have come to love.

Gehry-designed Building on MIT Campus

Bill and Nancy at Lunch in Boston

9/20/04 – Monday
Our catch up day – we did the laundry, went to the grocery store (Roche Brothers), went to the Cotuit Library, and then picked up some videos (Jersey Girls and Man from Elyasian Fields) from Blockbuster’s. We met Ellen, the friendliest person in all of New England. She is the perky little clerk at Blockbuster’s who wants everyone to pick just the right video – a real delight!

After our Ellen encounter, we came home, put the groceries away and ate the lobster rolls that were on sale at the grocery store.

I worked a little on my journal and then we went for a very nice hike at Beebe Woods Conservatory in Falmouth. We hiked down to ponds and one that was called “the punchbowl”. Then we continued our hike in Petersen’s farm where the sheep (and one llama) were protected by an electric fence. It was a lovely hike.

We came home. I wasn’t feeling that great – maybe it was the lobster roll. I watched the news while Bill made chili. It was good. After dinner, we started to plan our New England tour. After the tour books were spread all over, we decided to watch our video, “Jersey Girls.” We thought it was trite and stupid and corny. We went to bed after the local news.

9/21/04 – Tuesday
We got up about 6. I organized all the tour books and stuff – it was driving me crazy. From my upstairs bedroom window, I watched a rabbit come out from underneath the deck below. He stretched and stood tall on his hind legs and rubbed his face. He kept looking up at me. When Bill came into view, he hopped away. What a nice way to start the day. I haven’t seen the squirrel or the tennis ball – wonder where he went.

After breakfast, Bill went to the dump and I worked on the journal.

It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a bike ride from the start of the railroad trail at South Dennis. We had a rocky start. First we forgot the helmets and had to come home… Then we picked the wrong route to get to the parking lot. Finally, at about 11, we were ready to start our bike trip. We were tooling down the paved bike path, under the trees and viewing lots of cranberry bogs (but no harvest). Ten miles down the road I heard a shot. I thought it was the hunters, but it was the sound of Bill’s back tire exploding. Bill had to walk the bike a couple of miles to Brewster’s Bike shop. Several people passed us – but none were interested in helping (not like California and certainly not like Vietnam). Bill got two new tires at the bike shop. We had lunch while the guy replaced the tires and then continued along our way to Nickerson’s Park. We biked the 8-mile loop through the park. It’s the only place on Cape Cod where we’ve found hills – a nice change. We biked back to the car and got home about 3:30.

I caught up in the trip journal while Bill heated up leftover chili for dinner. After dinner I worked on deleting the rejected pictures I’ve taken. The laptop can’t handle my shutter finger. (Started out at 959 photos – still more deletions to go).

At 9, we watched the video, “Man from Elyasian Fields” with Andy Garcia and Mick Jagger. The character became a male escort and learned what it was like to be used. Interesting movie, interesting premise. (Ellen, from Blockbuster’s, was right about this one.)

Near the Bike Path

9/22/04 – Wednesday
Beautiful day – highs in the 80’s. I fed the birds and photographed some flowers in the garden (what is wrong with me? I have more photos than I can ever view….) Came in and finished my deletion project while Bill looked for the paddles for the canoe. Think it’s time to put away the bikes and hit the water.

Got the canoe loaded on the car and drove down 28 to Falmouth to find the launch area. It was a gorgeous day – water still and weather warm. I heard the old Yankee fishermen, who are not known for their words, carry on to each other about the magnificent day.

The first part of the canoe trip Bill had to give me instructions on proper paddling. I was in the front and he could see my every spastic move – but we did get the old green canoe to move. We went along the shoreline to view the wonderful old summer homes perched up on the hill and the yachts tied down below.

The geography of the place was amazing with islands and jetties and peninsulas placed like broken up puzzle pieces. I loved the quietness of the place and peering down into the clear water watching schools of minnows and floating jellyfish. The rhythm of the paddle and the splash of the water with the occasional waves were hypnotic. I easily imagined myself as an Indian heading for my wigwam. (No, I didn’t take drugs in the 60’s!)

We arrived at our destination, Washburn Island. It’s an isolated place preserved as a bird sanctuary. We found the first patch of sandy beach and headed to shore. We hiked all over the island – and then hiked it all again because we couldn’t find the path we’d marked to our canoe. The trails were mostly wooded scattered with a few wild flowers mixed in with poison ivy. After another hour, we finally got our bearings when Bill checked the digital photos I had shot and I walked to the coastline to take a closer look. At last, we were oriented. (Where’s GPS when we need it? Bill didn’t want to take it along and get it wet in the canoe.)

I was glad we got lost because we found the spot -- the spot where cool birds do their thing. I watched in amazement as a seagull took an oyster in his beak, flew up high, aimed the oyster and let it drop onto the coastline rocks below. He did the same procedure a couple of times before he could have his lunch. I’d heard about this before, but to see it was something else. Bill was more focused on finding the canoe. He’s very goal-oriented.

We had our lunch by the canoe – Italian subs we bought on the way – Yummy. We were both starving and then got back into the boat to find our way back. Not knowing that there is a front and back to the canoe, we switched places and I had a heck of a time paddling back with my legs scrunched up in the front – but we made it through the Buoys and all manner of boats and landforms. We loved our canoeing exploration. I was surprised I wasn’t even soar. (Kundalini Yoga prepares one’s arms for such adventures.)

We stopped by Blockbuster’s on the way home. Ellen, our new friend, wanted a thumbs up or down review and then recommended another video – “Mean Girls.” She also told us where to get a mean ice cream cone. We always do what Ellen says so our next stop was Chad’s. Ellen was right – the ice cream was great.

We came home. The house was hot – so I opened up the windows and the breeze came pouring through. Such a great place. Bill cleaned up the boat while I filled out a few postcards. Then Bill made homemade chicken soup.

We called Amy – really missing my darlings. I talked to Zi. I left her with 28 little wrapped presents, one to open each day that NiNi and PaPa are gone. Most of them are little plastic cats and dogs. After she asked me if I was home, she said she opened another present. I told her I was buying her more presents on the trip. She quickly commented, “That’s good because I’m getting tired of cats and dogs.” She cracks me up. Amy and Zi were headed to the playground to meet up with Aratie and Sailor.

After dinner we watched “Mean Girls,” scrappy, cute little flick. I liked it – I’m sure I would have like it better if I hadn’t slept through the ending.

Washburn Island

Washburn Island

9/23/04 – Thursday
Another beautiful day! Packed up the bikes. Bill picked some cucumbers and tomatoes. We stopped by the Bed and Breakfast guys, Carol and Leonard, to deliver the garden goods. Carol was shocked – said Leonard had just left out the back door to go over to our place at that very instant. Finally, we all connected and had a cup of coffee on their deck. They own a 6-room B&B once owned by the Captain Josiah Sampson. Carol showed us around and the place where the captain could watch all his shipbuilding, fishing industries from the little monitor on the third floor. We also saw the birthing room he built for his 18-year old bride. He was 55 at the time. She died in childbirth. Her ghost haunts the area.

We drove to Dennis with the bikes. We explored the cemetery and learned about the town's namesake, the Rev. Josiah Dennis. We biked to the beach and around lovely neighborhoods. We stopped by an interesting old movie theatre that hasn't changed in 40 years. They still show movies there. We had lunch at the Scargo Café and then biked to the Scargo Tower, given to the town in 1913 to honor the Tobey family. It was once part of a large, luxury hotel.

We had Ice cream in Yarmouth, loaded the bikes into the car, and headed home. Another great day.

Sampson House B&B

Dennis Cemetery

9/24/04 – Friday
After breakfast, we left for Rhode Island.

Had a little trouble finding Randy and Mimi's cottage in Portsmouth. We made a couple of passes over the crowded Mt. Hope bridge before we zeroed in on the wonderful cottage. Randy's uncle, Bryon, who lives across the street, left the cottage open for us We put our luggage inside and went over to meet Byron. He wasn't home, but he came over a little later. We had a loooong chat with him, from 12 to 1:30, in spite of being hungry and wanting to get some lunch. Bryon recommended Flow's Clam Shack, a Portsmouth landmark since 1936, so we went there for clam cakes and fries.

Having consumed an entire week's allotment of fat, we took off for the Green Animals Topiary. The topiaries were interesting, but it was a bit late in the season so the garden was somewhat ragged. We toured the Brayton House, which was interesting. The woman who met us at the door said her husband had removed earwax from Mr. Brayton, who built the house.

We'd had enough of the topiary, so we headed to Bristol, just across the Mt. Hope bridge. We walked around town and stopped at Gray's Ice Cream shop for a cone. We drove to Colt State Park, a beautiful spot on the bay, with fishing piers, trails and picnic areas.

We stopped at Clement’s grocery store on the way home – got breakfast stuff – too brain-dead to plan regular meals. No liquor was sold in the store, so we had to go to the liquor store for beer. I shot photos out back with a glorious sunset while Bill carried on with the clerk about how bad Bush is. (I was ready to kill for a beer.)

Back at the cottage, we had beer on the porch, then went for a wonderful dinner at the Sakonnet Café – grilled swordfish served by a perky, darling waitresses.

Randy and Mimi's Place on Rhode Island

9/25/04 – Saturday
Got up, had breakfast and drove the 70 miles to Providence. We began our day at the Visitor center in Rodger Williams Park in heart of town. A very helpful park ranger gave us lots of information about restaurants, walking tours and the Water Fire event scheduled for that evening. The Visitor's Center had interesting exhibits about Rhode Island's history. We learned about Roger Williams, who had come from England. He became a minister in Boston, but was fired because of his "radical" belief that all religions should be tolerated. He moved to Providence and planned the town. He laid out the town with mile-long lots so everybody had access to the river. He had another radical idea: that Indians should be compensated for the land taken by the European settlers. He learned the Indian's language and wrote a book about respecting the Indians. He held church meeting in homes because be believed that churches did not need fancy buildings. He also believed that women should be allowed to preach. Way ahead of his time. (Maybe a little too progressive for some of today's evangelicals.)

We walked around town, stopping first at the state capitol, which was closed. People were setting up a street faire on the capitol grounds. I bought an Indian pouch from a vendor. We next walked to John Brown's house, the start of an organized walking tour of the historical building in the older areas of downtown. Beverly, our guide knew everything.

John Brown, who provided the funding for Brown University, was a larger-than-life guy, who made rum in the alley and was married to a Quaker, . Brown University was established to educate ministers and later became a woman's university. Beverly also told us about Providence's beloved mayor, Cianci. He is responsible for much of Providence's redevelopment in in the past decade, but was convicted on federal racketeering charges. According to Beverly, would be reelected in a heartbeat if he ran for reelection. Much of Providence's redevelopment was based on a plan commissioned by Cianci. The plan recommended three things: 1. Remove the thorough covering the river in downtown and reclaim the river; 2. get rid of the train station and 3. build a shopping mall downtown. All three goals were accomplished and it looks like the plan works. Downtown Providence is lovely and vibrant.

Many of the old buildings we visited on our walking tour were crumbling until a wealthy woman purchased as much land as she could and gave it away under the condition that the new owners renovated the buildings. Brown University also saved many of the buildings when the University purchased them to use as classrooms or offices.

We stopped at the Library (Athenea), the only Greek classical style building in town). Edgar Allan Poe did research there and fell in love with a younger woman. Her parents forbid her to marry Edgar, a known drunk and drug addict. He died shortly after her refusal and she spent the next 20 years working on his biography.

We toured the Unitarian Church (big place with lots of people) and the first Baptist Church, where parishioners bought your own pews. It has a large chandelier given by a rich bride to honor her wedding day. The Baptist church is used for graduation at Brown.

Saw the simple red house, once owned by Governor Steven Hopkins who signed the Declaration of Independence. Upon signing, he said even though his hand shook, his heart was firm. George Washington slept at his house a couple of times.

Had a sandwich at Cable Cinema, near Brown University, then went back to John Brown’s house and toured the interior. Next we went to the Art Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the best design schools in the US. There were lots of interesting things to see – Pendleton House, Paul Revere’s silver mug, glassware, Japanese, Greek, and French Impressionists. There was also a nice Cambodian art exhibit and dance.

We walked to the river at 6:15 and waited for the Water Fire show to start. They light hundreds of fires in the middle of the river and play music through speakers all along the river. We enjoyed the performance along with lots of other people. We had ice cream at the mall and then drove back to Portsmouth.

9/26/04 – Sunday

We spent the day in Newport, RI, visiting the summer houses built by the robber barons in the late 19th and 3arly 20th centuries. We started at 9:20 at the Breakers, built by Cornelius Vanderbilts. Next stop was the more modest Elms, known for its lavish and fun parties. At its housewarming the owners released monkeys in the backyard.

We then toured Rosecliff, where part of the Great Gadsby, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, was filmed. Some of the costumes from the movie were on display. Cole Porter spent time here writing some of his famous songs. There was a nice display of fashions and photos of what life was like during the mansion's hay day.

Our next stop was the Marble House, built by Alva Vanderbilt, a real bitch who got 11 million from her sweet husband William for her 39th birthday and then divorced him. They had 3 kids – 2 sons and a daughter. There son, Herman liked fast cars and sailing. He won America’s Cup. Daughter Consula hated her mom who forced her to her marry a Duke. After they divorced Alva had to pay him 2.5 million a year. She then married his best friend and business associate.

That was plenty of mansions for one day so we decided to go to lunch at O’brien’s pub, where we dined with a big gang of Hell’s Angels. After lunch we drove part of the scenic Ocean Drive, stopping at Fort Adams (named for John Adams). Drove back into Newport for dinner at Salas – pitcher of beer, antipasto salad and lots of spaghetti. Got home about 8.

Breakers, Newport, RI

Breakers Garden

9/27/04 – Monday
After breakfast we drove to Bristol. We checked our e-mail at the library and then went to the Audubon Society wildlife refuge, where we walked on planks to the sea. There were lots of cattails and wildflowers and birds. We bought Randy and Mimi a brass shell door knocker made by a local artist at the gift shop. Also got Zi a red stuffed lobster.

We stopped for lunch at Papa Joe’s, where I had a Chicken Caesar salad wrap and Bill had a Spicy Mediterranean wrap. We walked down to a toy shop where we got Zi a princess paper doll set. We then walked to the Historical Society, housed in an old run down former County Jail. Ray, the curator, spent a couple of hours telling us all these great stories about Bristol’s history. There were lots of portraits of guys, all wearing same suit, done by traveling artist. Bristol's most famous resident is General Burnside, who founded the Burnside rifle company. We saw his field desk and folding chair. After the American Revolution they changed all the street names in Bristol to get rid the British names. There were canon balls fired at the town by the British in pre-revolutionary days.

Stopped by a shop called “Be Here Now.” Got Amy a silver elephant box and then carried on with the crazy owner who detests Bush. She once was a state senator and could really talk politics. She claimed some famous psychic said Kerry would be the president and win a second term. Hard time believing that – things are looking dismal.

On our way back home we stopped by Clements to get groceries. We talked briefly to neighbor Bill – seemed nice. Had a beer and watched the sun set. Watched the news and then went back to Sakonnet Café for dinner. Enjoyed our stuffed sole.

9/28/04 – Tuesday
Cleaned the house and did all the wash before saying good-bye to Byron and starting our drive, in a steady rain, to the White Mountains. We found a little cabin in Lincoln, New Hampshire, at the Mt. Liberty Motel. Irene – the jolly little Inn Keeper-- checked us in. She had candy everywhere and the place was loaded with Halloween decorations. We took a drive to Franconia Notch, stopping at the Big Basin for a quick beautiful hike.

We bought provisions in Franconia and came back to our sweet little cabin to have a beer on the screened-in back porch. The sound of the roaring river outback is deafening. As Irene suggested, we went to the Common Man for dinner. It was in a converted old farmhouse. They had a cheese bar to load up on while you waited for dinner. We shared a yummy fish dinner and a salad with walnuts and strawberries.

Liberty Motel, White Mountains, NH

Fall Colors in the White Mountains

9/29/04 – Wednesday
After breakfast in the cabin we packed peanut butter sandwiches and headed to the Flume, a big gorge. We then took a beautiful hike to Lonesome Lake.

After the hike we headed to the Robert Frost house in Franconia. It was a beautiful, serene place. The nature walk out back had his famous poems posted along the path. He and his family lived in the place for only about 5 or 6 years, but loved it.

We drove back to our cabin and, at Irene’s husband's recommendation, we ate at Fratigge. It was OK, but not like the Common Man.

The Flume

Robert Frost's House

9/30/04 – Thursday
Another breakfast in the cabin, then packed peanut butter sandwiches for the hike to Mt. Hedgehog. After lunch at the top of the mountain, we drove to North Conway (a tacky little town) on 302 and then on through Littleton with the longest candy counter in the world.

Got to Dick and Diane ’s condo in Quechee, Vermont at sundown. It's a lovely place. We drove to Pizza Chef for a pizza and a beer and then came home to watch the first presidential debates. Bush was a fool and made monkey faces the entire time and kept saying Kerry is sending “mixed messages.” At least he pronounced it correctly.

Nancy on top of Mt. Hedgehog

Dick and Diane's Place in Quechee, VT

10/1/04 – Friday
We had breakfast at Dana’s, just down the street from Dick and Diane's, and then explored Queeche Gorge. We drove to Woodstock, then on to Billings Farm and Museum, a National Historical Park. We explored the museum in the Carriage Barn and then had an escorted tour of the Belvedere Mansion, with its swimming pool, bowling alley, and greenhouse. The Mansion wes built in 1805-07 by Father Charles Marsh Sr. His son, George Perkins Marsh became one of the first environmentalists. He attended college at Darmouth and wrote one of the first books on environmentalism, “Man and Nature.” After his wife and kid died, within 11 days of each other he married again and became Ambassador to Turkey.

Marsh sold the house to Fredrick Billings (originally from Woodstock) who made a fortune in San Francisco as lawyer, railroad tycoon and land speculator. Billings Montana is named for him. He remodeled the house, married Julia, and had 4 sons and 3 daughters. He died at 67. His daughter, Mary, inherited house. Mary's a daughter who married Laurence Rockefeller (founder of Rock Resorts). Rockefeller turned the house over to the National Park Service it and was opened as a Historical Park in 1998.

After lunch in Woodstock we toured the Billings Farm. The farmhouse was restored to the 1890s era, but the farm is still a working farm. We saw wagons, the dairy farm where they were milking cows, horses and sheep.

After spending most of the day at the farm / museum, we took a drive in the countryside. Went past old cemetery, beautiful lakes, foliage. Stopped at the Barnard General Store for an ice cream (Moose Tracks).

Headed back through Woodstock to Dick and Diane's. Had a beer, then went to Black Angus for steak and stuffed lobster. Meet a couple from Georgia who suggested we head north to see colors and Ben and Jerry’s.

Quechee Gorge

Billings' Farm

10/2/04 – Saturday
After breakfast we drove to Montpellier. Wanted to stop to see the capitol, but it was too early, so we continued to Ben and Jerry's where we bought tickets for the 10 o’clock tour. We saw how they make ice cream and learned the history of Ben and Jerry, two junior high friends who figured they had now talents, so they decided to make ice cream, using a recipe they bought from a mail order house.

We continued north to Smuggler’s Notch, where we hiked to Sterling Lake. The colors were beautiful, but the weather was chilly and windy and it looked like rain. We stopped at a nice restaurant, the Bakery in Jefferson, for a ham sandwich and mushroom soup.

We drove home in the rain, had a beer, went out for Chinese, returned home and went to bed.

Bill and Nancy at Ben and Jerry's

Fall in the White Mountains

10/3/04 – Sunday
We cleaned up D&D’s place and then drove to Grafton, Vermont, a beautiful town owned by the Windham Foundation. Two brothers inherited some money with the stipulation that they use it for a charitable cause. They decided to save Grafton, a town they had come to as kids which had fallen into disrepair. It is now a wonderful authentic New England town, not commercial at all.

We said good bye to Grafton and drove back to Cape Cod.

Ate leftover chicken noodle soup, watched 60 Minutes and then the movie, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.

Grafton, VT

Grafton, VT

10/4/04 – Monday
We had a relaxing morning. Drove to Sandwich for lunch at Seafood Sam’s. It wasn't as good as the first time we ate there – too greasy and too many people from a bus tour. We biked on the beautiful Cape Cod Canal bike trial. Along the bike path we stopped at a trading post operated by Miles Standish, but it was closed.

We returned home and watched “Super-size Me” – a documentary about a guy who ate nothing but food from MacDonald’s for one month and almost died. Fun movie.

Couldn’t sleep, so up late watching Jay Leno and my other middle of the night video pals.

Cape Cod Canal

Miles Standish's Trading Post

10/5/04 - Tuesday
Drove to Provincetown again to buy end of season t-shirts. We stopped along the way at the Salt Pond and to see where Marconi established his wireless station. We also stopped at 3 sisters lighthouses.

In the evening we watched the vice-presidential debates. Cheney is a mean son-of-a-gun and Edwards is a gee-whiz guy. Can’t be objective about who won.

A freeze is expected tonight.

10/6/04 - Wednesday
After breakfast we cleaned the house and then took a very nice bike ride around town. I stopped and took lots of photos. Came home and finished our wine. I took a little rest before our big splurge night out.

We drove to Dennis to have dinner at the Red Peasant. Bill had the haddock and I had the sole. Excellent gourmet dinner – plus we shared a profideroll for desert and went home stuffed. The place was in an old barn – elegant, but kind of chilly. We ease dropped on a feisty old gal who said she was born when Woodrow Wilson was president and knew Rose Kennedy.

10/7/04 - Thursday
Had breakfast, washed the sheets and towels and did the last minute things before closing up the house. We’re going to miss this sweet place. There were hundreds of birds in the front yard. We made one last trip into Cotuit and bought some homemade jam from a darling little lady who moved to Cotuit from Minnesota 52 years ago. We bought a dozen jars for souvenirs for our friends in San Diego.

We tried to find the Indian museum across from the famous Flume Restaurant, but no luck so we went to Ashument Holly tree and bird sanctuary. We hiked around the lake and saw a few big geese.

We drove to the airport in Providence, where we a had a hamburger. Not bad for airport food. Our flight was uneventful. Brian and Zi picked us up at the airport. (Amy was at choir practice.) Brian and Zi came in for about an hour. I loved seeing my Zi-baby. We played with paper dolls that I had bought her. They left at 9:30 and we went to work emptyin suitcases and putting things away. No rest for the weary. The place was spotless. Good to be home.


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