This one will not make the Rock Hall of Fame

Almost exactly 399 years ago, a band of unhappy Leidenites left Plymouth, England, anxious to start a new life, free from persecution for their religious beliefs and free to persecute any heretics who had the temerity to disagree with those beliefs.  Most school kids learn that the Pilgrims sailed aboard the Mayflower directly across to Plymouth Rock.  Actually they cruised up to Plymouth, Massachusetts, only after ransacking some Indian food stores and graves further south.  Still, as we rounded into Plymouth Harbor after leaving Boston we could imagine how relieved they must’ve been to see the welcoming lighthouse.

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We know the Pilgrims passed a lighthouse on their way in because we found a picture, painted just as Massasoit saw things through his fashionable tortoise-shell glasses.  (We figure there’s no way the local ophthalmologist who sponsored the painting would be deceptive, although there are no lenses in the glasses.)

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We both admit to imagining Plymouth Rock as a majestic natural monument to the courage and fortitude of Miles Standish, William Brewster, and the rest of the gang,  who used it as the first giant step for American mankind.  As it happens, the structure around the Rock in fact is rather grand.

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The rock, not so much.

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Plymouth Rock actually is kind of puny.  Plus, there’s no real evidence anyone stepped on it at all.  Even worse, at some point the Rock was moved, and broken in half, reassembled, and then plopped where some unknown person guessed was an historically-appropriate spot on the shore but nobody knows for sure.  The concept is cool, but the production is on the sketchy side.  (At least we know the rock dates back to exactly 1620, of course, because some unknown person chiseled “1620” right there on top.)

Anyway, it was pretty lucky for Plymouth that the Mayflower stopped here.  Certainly the tourism industry has benefitted greatly.  Plymouth does Pilgrims like PEI does Anne of Green Gables.   Most of the tacky stuff we skipped, but we enjoyed the walking around part.  For example, we visited Burial Hill and William Bradford’s spot in it.

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That’s pretty cool.  A bunch of other Pilgrims are up on the hill there as well.  Yet others apparently were just dumped together under another marble monument closer to what then was town.

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None of the original buildings from the settlement have survived, but we’re still glad we stopped off here even though we only stopped off here because the marina refused to waive the cancellation penalty.

A couple of nice Plymouth sunrises are in the books, so we’re heading out tomorrow.

Boston Strong

Yup, we’re in Boston.  Beantown.  Home of Paul Revere and Whitey Bulger.  Full of people who don’t seem to care about how utterly offensive those cheating Patriots and their dirtbag owner are to real Americans.

The short cruise down from Salem was uneventful, just as we like it.

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The Salem ferry zoomed up from behind at 30 knots.  We got out of the way.

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The Waterway Guide warned that entering Boston Harbor is scary and dangerous with boats and confusing markers and such.  Meh.  Piece of cake.

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On our way back from the pet store we stopped at Bunker Hill.  There’s quite a monument here despite the fact that the good guys lost the battle, perhaps because the loss rallied the revolutionary spirit and we kicked the British back across the Atlantic shortly thereafter.

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Although we didn’t see anything connecting the hill to Archie and Edith, we still went up and down the 294 steps, which seemed at least double that number to us because we were carrying sacks of canned dog food.  (We might’ve left the bag unattended at the entrance but folks around here are a bit touchy about that sort of thing.)

Since we are tourists after all, we also stopped by the Old North Church.  The place that gave us “One if by land, two if by sea.”  There was a large number of other tourists milling about in our way, but it’s a great bit of history anyway.

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The story we learned as children is that Paul Revere was watching from his house for the lantern signal, then leapt on his horse for the midnight ride to rally the troops from the countryside.  After seeing how his house is surrounded by Italian restaurants and condos that completely block the view of the church steeple, however, we find that story a little sketchy.

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The marina where we’re docked is part of the old Navy Yard, and the USS Constitution is just down the street.

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The Constitution is a commissioned naval ship still in active service, although it’s made of wood and the cannons are plugged so it probably won’t be of much use in WWIII.  Well worth the tour of the museum and the boat anyway.

We didn’t actually plan to visit a place where everybody knows our name, but found ourselves in such a place by accident.  Sort of.

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Doug would’ve had a beer just to say he had a beer, but we were tired and ready to go home.  Plus this is just a replica Cheers so why bother?

Unfortunately the places made famous by Al DeSalvo and the Tsarnaev brothers were too far away to walk.  And after what the M.T.A (now known as the M.B.T.A) did to poor Charlie, we weren’t taking any chances on the subway.*

Boston is a fascinating town and the view from down our dock is awesome, but we’re ready to move on to Plymouth tomorrow.

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* Everybody sing along!

Double, double toil and trouble

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Monday morning after sunrise we took off for Salem, Massachusetts.  Not much to report on the short cruise.  Lots to discuss about Salem.

Most notably, Salem fully embraces what Salem is most known for, which is hanging townspeople who someone accused of witchcraft in 1692.  We find this a bit surprising, since in most places lynchings are frowned upon and old lynchings are things most towns try to forget.  Not Salem.  It’s all about witches around here.  But at least some of it’s historical.  For example, this is Proctor’s Ledge, where the nineteen hangings occurred.

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Judge Jonathan Corwin was on the panel that carefully weighed the evidence and determined that, in fact, these folks were witches.*  Judge Corwin’s house still is here, ironically looking like a house where witches might live.

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Just down the street we found his grave.  Wait, another Corwin was the sheriff who likely had a hand in arresting and charging the poor slobs?  Yeah, that sounds fair.

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Okay we get the history stuff.  But that’s not all.  Salem proudly claims the nickname “Witch City.”  There are witches—real admitted witches—around every corner.

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At The Cauldron Black, they purvey not just occult goods, but fine occult goods. Only the top-shelf stuff.  No pedestrian books of curses or magic potions like they might sell at Omen, the Witchcraft Emporium (where the Ghost of Doug appeared in the window).

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Apparently every October witches and others of questionable sense travel to Salem from around the world to celebrate Halloween, or the Harvest, or the moon, or whatever strikes their fancy.  Bizarre.  Know who—besides us—wouldn’t come to Salem for Halloween?  The Reverend Dan Reehill, who recently banned Harry Potter from Saint Edwards Catholic School because the books contain “real spells” which, when read, can “conjure evil spirits.”  Yup, Father Dan partying like it’s 1692.**  (In fairness though, he did consult with “several exorcists” before passing his judgment.  Although that’s about as objective as Judge Corwin consulting with Sheriff Corwin.)

Happily, we found more to Salem than witchery.  Nathanial Hawthorne was born just down the street from our marina in 1804.  We previously commented on The Scarlet Letter, which he conceived while working in the same customs office building that we passed every time Oscar went over to Derby Wharf to pee.

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Clearly Natty was fantasizing about things far more salacious than just levying customs duties.

Hawthorne’s birthplace is hidden behind a paywall, but we were able to sneak around on the street to photograph the house of the seven gables, which somewhat obviously served as his inspiration for The House of the Seven Gables.

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We also toured the Peabody Essex Museum.   We didn’t just tour it, we actually participated in one of those modern art things.  This one was designed to show how multiplying a small individual achievement can lead to big things.  And in fact, when a bunch of people make a small clay ball, the total is a bunch of small clay balls.  Ours are in there somewhere.

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We also popped over to Gloucester.  Ever since reading The Perfect Storm, this has been a must-stop stop.  Anyone who read the book will recall that Billy Tyne and his crew hung out at The Crow’s Nest bar the night before they left port, and the families all gathered there during the search efforts.  Doug stopped by for a beer mostly to say he stopped by for a beer.

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It’s still just about the same as it was in 1991, although now that back wall has photos of the crew.  The owner is Gregg, whose brother-in-law was on the Andrea Gail.  He intentionally hasn’t used the story to market the bar, even though George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg and others frequented the joint while filming the movie.

Gloucester has lost thousands of fishermen, all of whom are listed on plaques surrounding the Fisherman’s Memorial.

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We’ve seen scores of memorials along our way, but this is one of our favorites.

We topped off our stay with a visit from George and Judi, who were traveling aboard their Nordic Tug Done Tacking when we first met them at Shady Harbor.  Very enjoyable dinner and trip over to Jubilee Yacht Club.

The plan is to leave our nice slip tomorrow and head to Boston.

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* In another post we wasted a reference to the classic Holy Grail witch scene.  That was quite poor planning, since this obviously is the most appropriate place possible.  If only Judge Corwin had thought to weigh the evidence in a more literal way.

** What about the witches in Macbeth?  Ban Shakespeare as well?  What about Bewitched, with Samantha and Darrin and then replacement Darrin?  Where does the madness stop?

 

New state, New Hampshire

Another state in our wake.  Maybe the most amazing thing is that we made it from Southwest Harbor to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, without stooping to the obvious puns.  As in “Lobster floats are a Maine in the butt” and such.

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Last night we had quite the treat when Paul and Kathy—owners of Miss Elly—picked us up for a delicious dinner.  Big fun and we hope to see them again in New Bern.

We’d planned to stay one more night in Kennebunkport but decided this morning to head on out.  Mostly it was just a straight shot down the coast, past Cape Neddick Nubble and the Nubble Light.

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We’ve seen hundreds of lighthouses, but none with a better name.  It’s such a cool lighthouse that in 1977 NASA sent a digitized photo of it into space aboard Voyager II as part of an informational package intended to educate any extraterrestrials who happened to intercept it.  True story.

We docked at Wentworth By The Sea, but failed to take a photo of the iconic hotel that was built in 1874.  We did, however, get one of the Portsmouth house—built in 1758—where Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones lived for a while before he started jamming with Jimmy Page and the other boys from Led Zeppelin.

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Portsmouth is a town worth a few days.  Maybe we’ll come back someday, but it’s a good travel day tomorrow.

Apparently the answer to yesterday’s title is outdoor furniture

Supposedly Dolphin Restaurant delivers fresh muffins to the boats every morning.  Every morning, that is, except this morning.  But we loved the place anyway even though it only was a one night stand.

We left under brilliant blue skies and light wind, just as we like it.  We’re getting away from the sheltering islands now, which means more waves and less scenery.  Mostly it’s just Atlantic Ocean but at least there’re fewer lobster pots.

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Fewer lobster pots, but more upside-down picnic tables.  Okay we only saw one upside-down picnic table, but it was some two miles offshore where we’d sink about three hundred feet if we hit it.

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A bit further we came upon a nun-shaped red navigational buoy.  Meh.  We’ve seen a zillion red buoys.  Wait a second.  This one’s not red.  It’s white and orange.

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We’ve never seen one of these before, because we’ve never been past a “Presidential Security Zone” before.  And frankly we don’t understand this Presidential Security Zone.  The point is to protect Walker’s Point and the Bush family compound.

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We get that this is an important place.  Heads of State visited here.  And with the exception of Presidents who die in office, or are impeached, or who should be impeached or die in office, protecting them and their families is a good idea.  But look at that shoreline.  All rocks.  Too shallow for submarines.  It’s quite unclear what threat is being deterred here, and we didn’t see anyone patrolling the area.  We theorize the Bushes just don’t want a view of lobster pot floats when they look out their windows.

We dutifully avoided the area anyway and went on up the Kennebunk River to Chicks Marina.  Kennebunkport is another cool Maine town.  Plus Kennebunk is another fun word to say.

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Yes Doug flew the drone, and yes he wanted to fly over the Bush place but chickened out.

We’re going to explore the town more tomorrow.