Sunday, July 12, 2015

New England Vacation: Day 10, 11, 12, 13, And 14

The view from Melville's Arrowhead including an interesting sculpture.
(The people are straw statues.)
On day ten we continued our literary tour first by visiting Arrowhead, home to Herman Melville (literary site number nine) followed by Edith Wharton's "The Mount" (literary site number ten).  Both houses are photogenic but they occupy the extremes of the spectrum.  Arrowhead feels like, what we would call, a middle class home.  The Mount, on the other hand is large, imposing, filled with luxury.  I especially liked the Mount's gardens.  While both homes are very photogenic, only the larger, glitzier Mount allows photography within the house.

Edith Wharton's country home and gardens.
 Early afternoon, after eating lunch at the Mount's cafe, we headed for Springfield, MA.  Along the way we passed under a bridge labelled Appalachian Trail - my last encounter until 2017 I expect.

In Springfield we followed the directions to Henry's jewelry store.  In the back of the store is a museum dedicated to the Titanic.  Naturally, based solely on its location, you can deduce that it would be quirky and you would be right.  The museum was filled with memorabilia related to the Titanic, its sister ships, the rescue ships, and, of course, the movie.

After leaving the museum we tried to figure out how to get to our hotel.  We ended up stopping and asking a couple of guys.  They talked between themselves, started giving rather convoluted directions mixed with several side stories along the way.  Within thirty seconds I was totally confused.  Fortunately one of the guys realized how messy the directions had become and said "follow me."  He got into his car and we followed him across town until we saw the exit we'd been looking for.  Sadly he didn't take our exit so we never adequately thanked him for his help.

Springfield is also the home of Dr. Seuss.  After checking into the hotel we got directions to a sculpture garden dedicated to the children's author (literary site number eleven - this one my idea).  A few wrong turns later and we arrived.  There are five statues depicting the author and his beloved characters.  The largest sculpture with Horton, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and several other characters all standing on a giant book just begs to be climbed on.  Unfortunately the statue is surrounded by signs says "Do not climb on sculpture".  Sad that such a climbable sculpture does not allow climbing.  It looks so kid friendly but kids are kept away - very un-Seuss like.  A statue dedicated to a man who wrote delightful stories for children should allow children to climb on it.
One of five Dr. Seuss sculptures - this one cries out to be climbed on ...
... but it is not allowed.
Plans for day eleven ended up changing quite a bit.  Originally we were going to Mystic Seaport.  Along with a whaling ship we would have visited the severed arm of a saint and a park bench dedicated to Ruth Buzzy.  At this point in our vacation these things didn't excite us.  The cost to see some of this stuff seemed a bit high too.  The night before we decided to change plans and head back to Lowell to explore the canals and the mills.

The mills - still run today by the National Park Service.
We arrived at the National Park visitor's center to find that the noon Canal cruise we wanted was full so we picked a 2:00PM one instead and dumped our planned 2:30 PM trolley tour.  It worked out well since we had time to learn about the Mill Girls, immigrants, and Cotton Mills before our canal cruise.  The history was interesting and the weather was perfect.

Cruising the Lowell canals.
Throughout this day I ate way way too much.  Chicken Parm Sandwich for lunch (marinara sauce does stuff to my stomach).  Pulled pork mac & cheese drizzled in BBQ sauce for dinner (BBQ sauce does other stuff with my stomach).  I topped it off with a piece of Cookies & Cream cake (Sweet, non-dairy, things also do stuff with my stomach).   Any one of these things would have been fine but, by eating all three on the same day, in the middle of the night I woke up feeling like a bloated whale carcass which is appropriate since we would be going to the whaling museum tomorrow.  It's been awhile since I had bloated heartburn this bad.

Day twelve would be our last sightseeing day and we had a few things left on our agenda.  First on that agenda was in Newport RI:  The Breakers - the Vanderbilt 'cottage'.

The Vanderbilt's 'cottage':  The Breakers.
We took a nice audio tour of the 1% opulance.  We arrived just behind a bus full of French tourists who started out moving too slow when they got to doorways.  I squeeze through mumbling "Pardon".  Once the crowd realized they were blocking the way things went faster for everyone.

The second stop for the day was the New Bedford Whaling museum.  We went through it pretty fast as we usually do.  It was interesting but not 'wow'.

Whale skeletons.

Finally we drove out on Cape Cod ending up in Provincetown. This had been my idea - one last attempt for a scenic drive.  Turned out not to be that scenic either.  The saving grace was the Portuguese Heritage parade we ran into in Provincetown and the ice cream parlor just off the main street where the parade went down.  I bought a second t-shirt in Provincetown - who can resist t-shirts for only $6.00?!?

We drove back to the mainland and found our hotel.  We tend to chose inexpensive hotels.  This one, the Capri motel, was special.  Behind the front desk prominently displayed for sale were candy, cigarettes, cigarette lighters, and condoms.  Not a good sign.  Our room key wouldn't work.  There was only one lamp.  There was only one towel.  There was a headache inducing smell.  We could have survived all this except the WiFi was crap.  We asked for our money back and, to their credit, they didn't argue about it and were nice about it.  The Best Western next door was full so we used their free WiFi to locate a better hotel that took us forty-five minutes closer to Boston, was cleaner, smelled fine, and had good WiFi.  This was our one and only bad hotel experience which ain't bad - a 91% hotel picking success rate for the Wife!

The next two days were transit days.  Day thirteen started off raining ... no ... pouring and windy.  We drove back to Boston in the pouring rain and returned our rental car.  Fortunately you could get from the rental car place to the train station without going out in the rain.  An hour or two at the station and we boarded our train south to Newark airport where the hotel shuttle picked us up.

Day fourteen was our only early starter so we could get to the airport for our flight home.  Things went rather smoothly and we were home by 9:30AM.

So that covers our latest domestic vacation.  This trip was a bit lackluster.  I liked New York, the 911 memorial, and the Freedom Tower.  I kind of liked Niagara Falls.  I liked Woodstock.  They were all 'likes' not 'loves' and I don't remember any 'WOW' moments.  The desserts, and I had many, were good though.

We've been alternating between domestic and international travel.  That may be at an end.  We are running out of domestic destinations that we are interested in and we both agree that this one didn't live up to our last domestic vacation in New Orleans.  In two years when we would have done another domestic vacation I will hopefully be hiking the Appalachian Trail so I don't know when we'll take another domestic vacation.  Next year ... we go international once more.

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